Lawyers Serving Clients in Surgeon, Anaesthesiologist, and Hospital Malpractice Claims in Vancouver and All of British Columbia
Any surgical procedure carries some degree of risk. Despite advances in medicine and the efforts of surgeons and other medical professionals to prevent harm to the patient, adverse outcomes can still occur.
However, errors on the part of a surgeon, anaesthesiologist, or other member(s) of the surgical team are a leading cause of harm to patients. If the error is the result of negligence on the part of one or more providers, you and your family may be entitled to compensation.
The medical malpractice lawyers at Klein Lawyers understand the challenges of surgical error claims. Please call (604) 874-7171 today for a free case review. Our team serves clients in Vancouver, Abbotsford, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Langley, Surrey, and other areas of British Columbia.
Types of Surgical Errors
Many things can go wrong before, during, and after surgery. One of the most common forms of surgical error is a slip of the scalpel or other instrument. This small mistake can result in severe bleeding, damage to organs, and other adverse outcomes. If such an error was the result of carelessness on the part of the surgeon, you may have a malpractice claim.
Other common examples of serious surgical errors include:
- Foreign objects left inside the patient: From surgical sponges to clamps, a variety of small objects may be left inside the patient by inattentive surgeons and other staff. The object may cause damage to structures inside the body, as well as lead to a serious infection.
- Medication errors: A wide range of medications may be administered to patients prior to surgery, in the operating room, and while patients recover from the procedure. Errors in the use of these medications (such as ordering the wrong dosage, administering the wrong medication, etc.) can result in complications at any point in the course of the patient’s treatment.
- Contamination: Operating rooms are supposed to be sterile environments. However, if surgical equipment is not properly sanitized and members of staff are careless in following hygiene procedures, patients are at a greater risk of infection and other complications.
- Wrong-site surgery: Surgery is supposed to be precise. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for surgeons to operate on the wrong part of a patient’s body. Wrong-site surgeries may result in unnecessary amputations, damage to or removal of healthy organs, and other serious outcomes.
- Wrong-procedure surgery: The incorrect surgery may not be confined to a particular site on a patient’s body. The wrong type of procedure may be performed on a patient with a particular injury or illness, or the procedure may not address the patient’s complaint at all. In either case, patients may suffer worsening health and a wide range of complications.
- Wrong-patient surgery: Surgical schedules can get crowded. However, this is no excuse for performing a procedure on one patient that was intended for another patient. The adverse outcomes associated with wrong-patient surgeries often combine the negative effects of wrong-site and wrong-procedure surgeries, resulting in a host of serious complications.
- Unnecessary surgery: With the advances in medicine today, it may seem unthinkable for doctors to recommend surgery on patients who don’t truly need it. However, errors on the part of multiple care providers can stack up, potentially resulting in procedures that needlessly put patients’ health and even their lives at risk.
In some cases the surgery is performed properly but a drug or medical device poses a threat to the patient. From hip implants to a wide range of medications, we have seen a number of patients suffer harm from a variety of defective medical products.
If you underwent surgery and suffered an adverse outcome due to a defective drug or medical device, an experienced lawyer can discuss your legal rights and options. You may be entitled to compensation through an individual product liability claim against the manufacturer or as part of a class action lawsuit.
The anaesthesiologist plays a number of crucial roles in the course of an operation. They administer anaesthesia (or supervise the administration of anaesthesia) to manage pain and level of consciousness, as well as monitor the vital signs of the patient to ensure his or her safety during the procedure.
Errors on the part of an anaesthesiologist can take many different forms. Common examples of anaesthesia errors include:
- Providing too little or too much anaesthesia
- Errors in monitoring the patient during surgery
- Keeping the patient under anaesthesia for too long
- Failure to take into account contraindications (e.g., physical health issues, drug allergies, etc.) in developing the surgical plan
- Failure to take timely action in response to adverse reactions to anaesthesia
- Intubation errors
- Errors in performing a spinal block
The negative effects of anaesthesia errors can range from nerve damage and chronic pain to brain injury and cardiac arrest. In extreme cases, negligence on the part of an anaesthesiologist may also result in death.
Why Do Surgical Errors Occur?
Despite the inherent risks of surgery, multiple factors can increase the likelihood of a serious error. Negligence can be caused by a number of factors, including:
- Fatigue: Surgeons and other staff frequently work long hours performing physically and mentally demanding tasks. Errors are more likely to occur when one or more members of the surgical team are tired or under stress.
- Hurry: The demands of modern medicine require all healthcare providers, including surgeons, to move quickly in order to treat as many patients as possible. This is especially true in emergency medicine, where time can be the difference between life and death. Sadly, unreasonable time frames result in a higher likelihood of preventable errors.
- Miscommunication: Successful surgeries depend on clear communication among all members of the surgical team. Lapses in communication during a procedure can result in negative outcomes for the patient.
- Lack of skill: It is an unfortunate reality that not all surgeons are created equal. When they try to perform procedures outside of their experience or specialty (especially highly complex surgeries), the potential for serious errors is much higher.
- Drug and alcohol use: The most extreme cases of surgical malpractice arise when providers are drunk or high in the operating room. Use of alcohol and illegal narcotics, as well as abuse of prescription drugs, can hinder a practitioner’s judgment, reduce motor skills, and more. The results of intoxication when performing surgery can be catastrophic.
Each of these issues may represent a lapse in the standard of care. In medical malpractice claims, the “standard of care” is the legal term for the course of treatment that a competent provider would take given the same circumstances.
If a surgeon, anaesthesiologist, or other medical practitioner involved in the procedure violates the standard of care through negligence, you and your loved ones may be able to recover damages through a medical malpractice claim.
Is the Hospital Liable for Surgical Errors?
A wide variety of surgeries are performed in hospitals. However, the surgeons, anaesthesiologists, and other doctors involved in the procedure may not be actual employees of the hospital. In these cases, your claim will likely be against the individual practitioner and generally not the facility.
Meanwhile, employees such as nurses, surgical technicians, etc. are generally employed by the hospital. If you were injured or lost a loved one due to negligence before, during, and/or after surgery on the part of a hospital employee, you may be able to recover compensation through a claim against the hospital.
Errors such as a failure to obtain informed consent, failure to provide patients with adequate pre-op and recovery instructions, and errors in postsurgical monitoring may all be at issue in surgical error claims involving hospitals.
Building a Surgical Error Claim
Medical malpractice claims are complicated, and cases involving surgical errors are no exception. Prompt investigation is crucial for determining what went wrong and who is responsible.
If you or a loved one suffered an adverse surgical outcome and you suspect the negligence of one or more practitioners may have been a factor, it is in your best interest to contact a surgical error lawyer as soon as possible. At Klein Lawyers, we take the following steps in building malpractice claims:
- Reviewing medical records: Records documenting your preoperative appointments, the surgery itself, and postoperative care are essential for identifying potential errors. Our lawyers will also review your medical chart to determine if the healthcare providers overlooked a known health issue that put you at risk during surgery.
- Retaining expert witnesses: Experts are crucial in medical malpractice claims. One of the most important roles for expert witnesses is testifying as to the standard of care, how errors by surgeons and other doctors and staff may have violated the duty owed to you as a patient, and whether those errors (negligence) caused or materially contributed to your injuries. Medical experts can also testify as to the nature and extent of the harm you suffer as a result of surgical malpractice.
- Calculating damages: The physical, emotional, and financial impact of a surgical error can be immense. In order to make a claim for compensation, our lawyers will gather evidence and retain experts to assess the damages in your case. We will fully account for your losses and pursue the compensation you and your family deserve.
- Filing a claim with the medical provider: Whether you file a claim against an individual practitioner (i.e., a surgeon, an anaesthesiologist, etc.) and/or a hospital or private medical center, malpractice insurance is generally your first option for compensation.
- Taking your case to trial: Many medical malpractice claims are resolved out of court without going to trial. However, if the liable party or parties refuse to compensate you fairly, we will not hesitate to take your case to court with the goal of securing a verdict in your favour.
Klein Lawyers has been serving clients in injury claims throughout British Columbia for over 20 years. We have extensive familiarity with the province’s major medical centers, such as Vancouver General Hospital, Surrey Memorial Hospital, Mt. Saint Joseph Hospital, and others.
Clients choose Klein Lawyers for our experience handling serious injury cases, the results we achieve, and our knowledge of tort law. Our firm is also renowned for the dedication and hands-on service we bring to each case, enabling clients to focus on their recovery while our team works on building the strongest possible case.
Damages in Surgical Error Claims
The compensation you may be able to recover for a surgical error will depend on the seriousness of the harm you have suffered. The most serious cases of surgical negligence result in severe complications, permanent impairment, and death.
If your health declines or you are rendered permanently disabled as a result of a surgical error, you and your family may be entitled to compensation for the following losses:
- Medical expenses related to the injury
- Lost wages
- Loss of future income
- Out-of-pocket costs for home and vehicle modifications, assistive devices and technology, home healthcare and household services, etc.
- Pain and suffering
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Loss of consortium
If a member of your family died as a result of a surgical error, you and your loved ones may be entitled to compensation for the loss of income and household services; expenses for medical care, funeral services, and burial or cremation; and loss of society and companionship. Klein Lawyers can discuss your options for filing a wrongful death claim.
How Long Do I Have to File a Surgical Error Claim?
One of the challenges in any medical malpractice claim, including cases of surgical or anaesthesia negligence, is the length of time that may pass before complications are apparent. Some issues may appear within days or weeks of a botched surgery, while others can take months or years to arise.
In British Columbia, negligence-based claims against surgeons, anaesthesiologists, and other medical practitioners must generally be brought within two years of the injury. Exceptions may apply if the injured party could not have reasonably known about the injury within the two-year statute of limitations.
That said, it is important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible if you suspect surgical error. If you delay, you run the risk of missing the deadline to file a claim, and thus your opportunity to be compensated for your losses.
Contact Our Surgical Error Lawyers Today
The decision to have surgery is one no patient takes lightly. We expect surgeons and other staff to take all necessary precautions and perform the procedure with our health and safety top of mind.
Unfortunately, surgical errors are a regular occurrence. If negligence on the part of a surgeon, anaesthesiologist, or other healthcare provider harmed you or a loved one, you may be entitled to compensation.
Contact Klein Lawyers at (604) 874-7171 today for a free case review. Our surgical error lawyers serve clients in Vancouver, Surrey, Abbotsford, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Langley, and all of British Columbia.