Nearly 3 million Americans go under the knife each year, The Washington Post reports. Some of these surgeries are elective, while others are brought on by an emergency. These emergency surgical procedures can range from relatively simple to highly invasive operations.
No matter what type of surgery a patient undergoes, the patient must realize the risk that an emergency medical error could occur. If harm comes from a preventable mistake, the patient and his or her family must also consider their legal rights and options.
As the Post reports, seven types of emergency procedures reportedly account for “80 percent of all admissions, deaths, complications and inpatient costs related to emergency surgeries.”
Risks of Digestive Organ and Abdominal Surgeries
The Post, citing a recent study from the JAMA Surgery medical journal, reports that the seven emergency medical procedures that contribute to such a high percentage of deaths and costs are:
Removal of part of the colon
Small bowel resection
Peptic ulcer surgeries
Abdominal adhesion surgeries
Abdominal area operations.
Collectively, these operations cover the repair or removal of every part of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Many types of complications can arise following these surgeries. For instance, a patient may experience:
Shock or paralytic ileus
Any surgical complications carry the potential to be very serious and life-threatening. In fact, the study reported in JAMA Surgery found that as many as 15 percent of all patients undergoing GI tract operations must be re-admitted to a hospital within one month of their surgery.
All medical professionals owe quality care to their patients. This is especially important during emergency operations. In New York, if a medical professional deviates from the required standard of care during a surgery, and an injury or illness to the patient results, the professional can be held liable for medical malpractice.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical professionals must go through many years of rigorous training before being allowed to operate on a patient. As a result, a tremendous amount of faith is placed in their hands. They must look out for the health and safety of vulnerable patients.
If a surgeon, doctor or nurse causes harm to you because they provided you with inadequate care, they must be held responsible. If you have suffered complications during surgery, for instance, you may have a viable medical malpractice claim.
However, pursuing a successful claim takes patience and persistence. In order to prevail in a New York medical malpractice lawsuit, your attorney will need to establish:
1. A doctor-patient relationship existed.
In emergency surgery cases, where you almost certainly encountered the medical professional at a hospital, this issue is generally not in dispute.
2. Negligence occurred.
In New York, medical malpractice cases are based on the legal theory of negligence. Your attorney will need to prove that the medical professional deviated from the recognized standard of care during your treatment.
This process can be complicated. It will likely be disputed by the defense. Your attorney will need to thoroughly review your condition, the treatment you received and the process the surgeons used during your operation to help you make your claim. Your attorney must also seek an expert’s review of your case by a qualified medical professional.
3. Negligence caused your injury.
Causation is another issue that will likely come up in your medical malpractice case. This is often a disputed issue in emergency surgery malpractice cases because emergency surgery patients generally come into the operating room with medical issues.
The opposing side may try to blame the underlying medical issue for the resulting complications. The argument is that even if the doctor was negligent, the negligence did not cause any damage because complications were unavoidable.
Medical malpractice victims must aggressively fight against this attempted defense. Your attorney can help you to prove, by a preponderance of evidence, that the doctor’s poor professional performance was, indeed, the true cause of the medical complications.
4. You sustained real damages.
Medical malpractice victims can only recover compensation to the extent that they can prove their damages. This requires thoroughly proving all aspects of that damage to the court.
Victims may be entitled to compensation for any additional medical bills, rehabilitation expenses, loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, disfigurement or loss of life enjoyment.
Post originally appeared in the NY Medical Malpractice Blog.