What Should I Do If a Doctor Makes a Mistake During Surgery?

By Ben Gobel on March 14, 2024

Photo of mallet and stethoscope

Facing surgical mistakes can be a traumatic experience for the patient and their family. Shockingly, there are nearly 100,000 deaths annually due to surgical errors. Whether it’s a foreign object unintentionally left inside your body or unexpected complications post-surgery, mishaps can.

So, what should you do if a doctor makes a mistake during surgery? 

This post is about legal actions you can take following surgical mistakes. Discover what steps to take if a doctor makes a mistake during surgery and how Ogg, Murphy & Perkosky, P.C. can help you. Learn more about surgical error cases and potential compensation.

Understanding Surgical Errors and Their Impact

Surgical errors are unintended events that occur during a surgical procedure. If these errors lead to harm or injury to the patient, they constitute medical malpractice. These medical errors can occur at any stage of the surgical process, from preoperative planning to postoperative care. Common types of surgical errors include:

  • Operating on the wrong body part or side
  • Leaving surgical instruments inside the patient
  • Performing the wrong surgical procedure
  • Anesthesia errors
  • Sewing up internal organs incorrectly

The impacts of surgical errors can be severe, including prolonged recovery times, additional surgeries, infections, disabilities, and even death.

Recognizing Signs of a Surgical Mistake

Not all complications point to an error, but some signs raise red flags. These signs include:

  • Excessive pain or swelling that worsens instead of improves
  • New or unexpected symptoms not explained by your doctor
  • Slow recovery or setbacks after surgery
  • Signs of infection, like fever, redness, or drainage from the incision
  • Difficulty breathing, nausea, or persistent vomiting

If you experience any of these, consult your doctor promptly. Early action can minimize further harm and help determine if a surgical mistake occurred.

Steps to Take If Faced With a Surgical Mistake

In the unfortunate event you experience a surgical mistake, managing the situation requires several key steps.

Document and Gather Evidence

The first step to address a surgical mistake is to document and gather evidence. Keep records of medical reports, surgical notes, and all communications with your healthcare provider. Take photographs and videos of any visible signs of error, such as incisions or objects left behind. Additionally, gather witness statements from family members, friends, or other medical professionals who can attest to the medical mistake.

Report the Incident to the Appropriate Authorities

Having gathered enough evidence, it’s time to report the incident. First, file a report with the hospital where the surgery took place. Their internal investigation can shed light on the situation. Also, depending on your location, you may want to report the incident to relevant medical licensing boards. These reports will trigger investigations and potentially prevent similar occurrences in the future. 

Consult with a Medical Malpractice Attorney

Don’t face this challenge alone—seek help from a medical malpractice attorney. These legal professionals focus on medical malpractice cases where negligence by medical professionals causes harm. An experienced medical malpractice attorney helps:

  • Review your case and medical records to determine if a surgical error likely occurred
  • Advise you on your legal options, including negotiating with the hospital or insurance company or filing a medical malpractice lawsuit/li>
  • Fight for the compensation you deserve, which may cover medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering

Overall, an attorney will guide you through the legal process, protect your rights, and fight for the compensation you deserve.

Doctor at desk

Understanding the Legal Process Involved In Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim

The legal path to address a surgical error can be complex, but a skilled medical malpractice attorney can guide you through each stage. Here’s a breakdown of the key steps:

File a Complaint

The first step is to file a complaint with the appropriate court or regulatory agency. This should be done within the statutory time limit, which varies depending on the jurisdiction. It is vital to consult with medical malpractice attorneys to ensure that the complaint is filed correctly and within the required time frame.

Conduct Discovery

Once the complaint is filed, both parties will engage in the discovery process. This involves exchanging relevant documents, medical records, and expert opinions. It is important to preserve all medical records and expert opinions to strengthen the case and increase the chances of a successful claim.

Negotiate a Settlement

After the discovery process, the parties may engage in settlement negotiations. A settlement can be reached through informal negotiations or mediation. A settlement can provide compensation without the need for a trial, saving time and money.

Going to Trial

If a settlement cannot be reached, the case may proceed to trial. A trial involves presenting evidence and arguments to a judge or jury, who will determine the outcome of the medical malpractice case. 

Preserving medical records is essential. They act as important evidence to support your claim and give details about the medical mistake. Detailed records facilitate case assessment, strategy formulation, and negotiation efforts.

Medical records also maintain transparency and accuracy during legal proceedings, increasing the likelihood of receiving fair compensation and holding those responsible for the mistake accountable.

Potential Compensation for Damages

A successful medical malpractice claim can help you recover compensation for the various ways a surgical error impacted your life. Here’s a breakdown of some key categories:

  • Medical Expenses: Covers past, present, and future medical bills related to the surgical error and its complications.
  • Lost Wages: Compensates for income you couldn’t earn due to recovery time or ongoing limitations caused by the error.
  • Reduced Earning Capacity: Accounts for future lost income if your ability to work is permanently diminished due to the error.
  • Pain and Suffering: Acknowledges the physical discomfort and emotional distress you endured.

An experienced medical malpractice lawyer can assess all your potential damages and fight to ensure you receive the maximum compensation you deserve.

Get Help From an Experienced Attorney

Want to file a lawsuit for a surgical mistake in Pittsburgh? Ogg, Murphy & Perkosky, P.C. has extensive experience helping Pittsburgh patients recover just compensation for surgical mistakes. Contact us today for a free consultation and let our experience guide you toward healing and justice.