Going into the hospital for a major medical operation or surgery can be nerve-wracking. While most procedures go according to plan, patients still run the risk of surgical errors when they enter a hospital. Here are some of the more common mistakes that result in legal action from patients in Delaware and throughout the country.
Even if a surgery appears to be successful, the issue of cross-contamination can have life-threatening impacts. Delaware patients should be aware of the risks of improperly sterilized equipment, as these surgical errors can lead to the contraction of bloodborne viruses like HIV and Hepatitis. A recent medical malpractice case has placed several patients at risk of such diseases after a hospital sterilization breach.
A serious complicated surgery is difficult for any patient to undergo, but many make the choice every day in Delaware and across the country. Many choose to risk the possibility of surgical errors because of the trust they have for their surgeon, and the hope for a healthy outcome. One family in another state was recently awarded millions in a lawsuit due to a surgeon's choice to leave his patient before the surgery ended.
Operating room technicians and nurses have strict protocols they must follow prior to a patient's surgery completion. All aspects of surgery are important, but the sponge count at the end of a surgery is extremely important. During the surgery, technicians and nurses keep track of the number of sponges and tools used on the patient and physically recount the items just before a patient is closed up to ensure that no items are left in the patient at completion. When items are left behind, they can cause great harm to the patient. Delaware patients may be interested to learn of a woman's ordeal involving surgical errors that left surgical tools in her abdomen following surgery.
In Delaware and elsewhere, there are significant risks with any surgical procedure or operation. It is important to understand the risks for a patient to make the best decision for his or her health. If there are significant risks for surgical errors, some patients may opt to choose an alternative medical treatment rather than surgery. The family of actor Bill Paxton has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against his surgeon and hospital following his death last year.
Patients in Delaware may be interested to learn that many hospitals are adopting programs that encourage medical professionals to participate in "communication and resolution" programs. The programs aim to encourage open communication between a physician and patient and/or families when adverse events or surgical errors occur. Many hospitals who have adopted the program feel that it's the moral thing to do, and victims or family members of victims often appreciate the answers the physicians provide. Traditionally, physicians and medical institutions have adopted a "deny and defend" policy even when known errors have occurred in an attempt to avoid medical malpractice lawsuits, but studies indicate that the open disclosure of any errors that may have occurred may not increase lawsuits.
Anyone who has had a magnetic resonance image, most commonly known as an MRI, is likely aware that no metal can be present within a certain space of the imaging machine. As stated in its name, it contains a large magnet and considerable damage or injuries can occur if metal objects are nearby. Unfortunately, for one man, he was unaware that metal resided in his abdominal cavity from a previous surgery. It was discovered while undergoing an MRI. Anyone in Delaware who has suffered similar surgical errors may be interested in the man's medical malpractice lawsuit filed against the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Verifying a patient's identification is one of the first steps any hospital or medical establishment in Delaware must make prior to administering any type of treatment. When there is a failure to establish identity, medical and surgical errors can occur. Any medical error is dangerous because many cannot be undone. One hospital in another state treated the wrong patient for hours and has been accused of refusing to verify any identification or medical records.
When Delaware patients undergo surgery, they are typically nervous about the possibility of an unexpected outcome. There is a fear of surgical errors such as infection, the wrong surgery on the wrong body part or unexpected injury. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) and privacy laws in the medical field provide privacy protections for patients. A recent case raises the question of whether taking a nude photo of a sedated patient during surgery constitutes medical malpractice. One woman argues that it does, and she has recently filed a medical malpractice claim in another state.
Although believed to be rare in the Delaware medical community, medical instruments can be left behind in patients following a surgery. Because foreign objects are not meant to remain in the human body, they can cause serious pain and damage to a patient. Emergency surgeries, staff changes and other factors can increase the risk of foreign objects remaining in a patient. One woman in another state had the unfortunate experience to discover the complications that can result from surgical errors.