Who Is Liable for a Surgical Error?

Posted by Legal Team | 01/26/23 | Medical Malpractice

Having to undergo surgery is always a cause for anxiety and distress, but we trust our doctors to adhere to the highest possible standards to keep us safe and perform procedures with the utmost care. Sadly, doctors make mistakes, and surgical errors are some of the worst mistakes a doctor can make. Nearly 4,000 surgical errors occur each year, causing lasting harm to patients who suffer these medical mistakes.

If you or someone you love has experienced an injury due to surgical error, it’s important to understand where liability lies and what your rights and options are under the law. While a lawsuit can’t erase the harm caused by the mistake, it can help you gain compensation for the damages so you have better access to medical care and fewer financial worries, allowing you to focus on maximizing your recovery to the best possible extent.

What Are the Most Common Surgical Errors?

Medical mistakes now account for 10% of all deaths in the United States. Some of the most egregious errors take place before, during, and immediately after surgery, resulting in irreparable harm. Common surgical errors include:

  • Wrong patient surgery
  • Wrong site surgery
  • Anesthesia errors
  • Foreign objects left behind in a body cavity
  • Infections

When a mistake happens during surgery, the patient may suffer unnecessary pain, illness, second surgeries, and irretrievably lost body parts or damaged organs. When a mistake with these grave consequences occurs, the patient has the right to compensation for their damages.

Determining Liability for Surgical Mistakes

While it may seem clear that the doctor who performed the surgery made the error, determining liability isn’t that simple. In some cases, the status of the doctor and his/her relationship with the hospital impact liability. The following parties could be liable for surgical mistakes:

  • The surgeon
  • The anesthesiologist
  • The hospital or surgical center
  • A member of the surgical team

A New Mexico medical malpractice attorney with experience in medical malpractice claims, including surgical mistakes, can investigate the circumstances of the injury to determine the liable party. Once identified, proving liability requires showing the following:

  • That the medical professional and injured party had a doctor/patient relationship which requires the medical professional to adhere to the highest standards of medical practice
  • That the medical professional owed a duty of care to the patient
  • That the medical professional breached their duty of care through an act of negligence
  • That the breach of this duty directly caused the patient’s injury
  • That the patient suffered physical and financial damages from the injury.

Understanding how liability works in a medical malpractice lawsuit can help injured patients to better understand their options after a surgical error.

What Can I Gain From a Surgical Error Malpractice Lawsuit?

Most surgical errors cause lasting or permanent harm requiring further medical treatment. A medical malpractice claim of this type typically brings a settlement or court award for the following damages:

  • Medical expenses
  • Future medical expenses in the event of further necessary treatment
  • Lost wages from missed work days and/or lowered productivity
  • Lost future earnings in the case of further treatment or permanent disability
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional anguish and trauma

Surgical errors are unacceptable. Many laws, rules, and safeguards are in place in hospital settings to prevent these egregious mistakes. When one occurs, it means someone was negligent and is at fault for your injury. If you or a loved one was harmed in this way, a New Mexico personal injury attorney with experience in surgery-related medical malpractice can help maximize your chance for substantial compensation so you can better focus on recovering from your injury.