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Surgical Negligence and Unnecessary Surgeries

Surgeons are the best and the brightest among doctors and medical professionals, but that doesn’t mean they don’t make mistakes. They do. Surgeons might be qualified and capable to perform a given operation, but they might also be overworked and overtired, they might be distracted by other things going on in their lives, they might be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or they might be working in an operating that is ill-equipped or understaffed. There are many different ways doctors can make mistakes during surgeries, but one fact is always constant, and that is the serious threat of patient harm.

Any surgery is risky, especially when general anesthesia is involved, and a positive outcome can never be guaranteed. If something does go wrong and you or your loved one experiences a negative result, unwanted side effects or complications, how do you know whether surgical negligence is the reason? It is almost certain that no one from the hospital is going to tell you they made a mistake. You need medical and legal professionals completely on your side in this situation.

Before devoting his legal practice to patient advocacy, attorney Peter Bertling spent 30 years being retained by insurance companies to defend doctors and hospitals accused of malpractice. At Bertling Law Group, we know what documents to request and which medical experts to retain to look into your case and determine whether medical malpractice such as surgical negligence is a likely cause of your injuries. Our firm is devoted to finding out what went wrong, getting you the answers you need, and where appropriate, holding doctors and hospitals accountable for their mistakes. We’ll work to get maximum compensation for your injuries and force needed changes to prevent future mistakes from harming others. Call our office if you believe you or your loved one has been hurt by surgical negligence or an unnecessary surgery in a California hospital, a VA medical center, or a military hospital nationwide.

What Are Surgical Mistakes?

The majority of medical malpractice in hospitals is due to surgical negligence. About one-third of these mistakes are tagged by the hospital as “never events” that cause permanent injury to the patient. Some of the most common examples of surgical negligence in California hospitals include:

  • A surgical instrument or foreign object (such as a clamp or sponge) is retained in the patient’s body after surgery, only to be discovered later through an x-ray or exploratory surgery when the patient starts experiencing pain or other complications. A simple count of surgical tools before and after the operation could prevent this mistake.

  • Surgery is performed on the wrong side of the body, the wrong surgery is performed, or the surgery is performed on the wrong patient. These mistakes can be prevented by marking the surgical site, double-checking the patient’s chart, checking the patient’s ID, and verbally communicating with the patient before transferring to the OR and again before administering anesthesia.

  • The doctor operates in a negligent or substandard manner. These errors can include making an incorrect incision, using an improper medical technique, puncturing or perforating an organ, unreasonably delaying surgery, or performing an operation without first getting the patient’s informed consent.

What Are Unnecessary Surgeries?

It’s been estimated that between 10 and 20% of most common surgeries are not necessary for patient health, and for certain kinds of procedures, the incidence is much higher. This amounts to tens of thousands of operations conducted annually that don’t need to happen. Unnecessary surgeries needlessly expose patients to physical, emotional and psychological harm. Performing an unnecessary surgery is medical malpractice, but it can take a skilled and experienced medical malpractice lawyer working with qualified medical experts to determine when an unnecessary surgery has been performed and prove it in court, along with the damages caused.

Why would doctors perform unnecessary surgeries? The answer might be as nefarious as insurance fraud or as benign as a simple lack of competence, training and experience to know when surgery should or should not be performed. Also, many doctors belong to medical groups that encourage them to perform a large number of operations for the practice’s profit, or the doctor might need to perform a certain number of operations to maintain admitting privileges at the hospital. Finally, there is the simple fact that surgeons are trained to operate; that’s what they know to do. If you consult with a surgeon, they will probably recommend operating, even when other less invasive or less risky options might be available and equally therapeutic.

Surgery for any reason other than the patient’s health should probably be considered an unnecessary surgery. Yet study after study has revealed cardiac surgeries, spinal surgeries, knee replacements, hysterectomies, c-sections, and the removal of the prostate or gall bladder are all performed more often than they need to be. Unnecessary surgeries are a disservice to the patient and put them at risk of serious injury and complications, in addition to the psychological harm they can cause.

Get Help for Malpractice Injuries Caused by Surgical Mistakes

If you believe that you or your loved one may have been the victim of surgical negligence or an unnecessary surgery in a California hospital or surgery center, or at a VA medical center or military hospital, call Bertling Law Group at 844-295-7558 for a free consultation. There’s no fee if we don’t recover for you.

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