The questions on this page were answered by our team of Virginia Beach & Norfolk personal injury attorneys. The questions are categorized by practice area such as car accidents, medical malpractice, wrongful death, etc. If you have specific questions about your situation, contact our firm to set up a free consultation with an actual attorney.
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When can a victim sue for medical malpractice because of anesthesia errors?
Failure on the part of a medical professional to clearly explain what the risks are of going under anesthesia can be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. Other common reasons for lawsuits include:
- Failure of the medical professional to follow the medical standard of care by using the best practices for the patient’s condition and situation.
- Failure of the medical professional to respond quickly and appropriately to the medical crisis.
- Failure on the part of the medical professional to identify a medical condition that could put the patient at a dangerous risk.
- Incorrect dosage of anesthesia
- The type of anesthesia method used
What are the injuries a victim can suffer from anesthesia errors?
- Brain damage
- Nerve damage resulting in limb numbness or loss of functionality
- Spinal cord injury resulting in paralysis
What are the risks associated with anesthesia?
- If a person is obese, it can be harder for medical professionals to determine the correct dosage of anesthesia, as well as ensure the person receives enough oxygen while they are under.
- If a person suffers from heart disease, clogged arteries, had a stroke, high blood pressure, and other age-related medical condition could be at higher risk of complications while under anesthesia.
- A person suffering from sleep apnea or other medical conditions that affect breathing ability is at a high risk of suffering a dangerous loss of oxygen while under anesthesia. This could cause the victim to suffer permanent brain damage or death.
What are my legal options if a surgeon leaves an object inside my body?
One of Virginia’s medical malpractice laws recognizes allowing a surgical instrument to remain inside a patient’s body as an “act of negligence [that] clearly lies within the range of [a] jury’s common knowledge and experience.” What this means, among other things, is that a person who has substantive proof that an object was left in their body and that the error cased substantial harm can proceed directly to filing an insurance claim or civil lawsuit against the responsible surgeon and the hospital where the error occurred. Substantial harms from a retained surgical object include follow-up surgeries, infections, internal injuries and bleeding, and pain and suffering.
Why do surgeons leave objects inside patients?
A sponge, needle, scalpel, clamp or other surgical instrument can be left inside a patient for several, sometimes compounded, reasons.
First, a large number of objects get used during even simple procedures. Surgeons, nurses and aides can simply lose count of, say, how many sponges (actually, rolls of gauze) they have inserted and removed while trying to control bleeding.
Another problem is that many surgical implements are delicate. A piece of a fine blade or the tip of a narrow-gauge needle can break off without people noticing.
A third issue is that surgical suites can be loud, crowded, confusing and high-pressure places. Even when checklists are used and when surgical teams have worked together for some time, oversights can occur.
Regardless of the exact reason a surgeon and members of the surgical team leave objects inside patients, such errors constitute clear cases of medical malpractice. Patients harmed by retained surgical instruments deserve compensation.
What object is most frequently left in patients’ bodies following surgery?
Surgeons are most likely to leave sponges inside patients when closing surgical incisions. Needles, scalpels, blades, clamps and scissors are also prone to not being removed from patients’ bodies.
Our Virginia medical malpractice law firm has help victims of what patient safety researchers call “retained surgical instruments.” In those cases, our clients experienced significant pain, developed infections, bled internally and required follow-up surgeries to remove the foreign objects and to repair the damage those forgotten instruments did.
What are the most common emergency room errors made?
- Administrative errors (i.e. confused patient records, mislabeled test results)
- Delayed diagnosis
- Failure to check patient history
- Failure to consult with a specialist
- Failure to provide essential medical care
- Failure to provide the patient with the appropriate aftercare
- Failure to treat an illness or infection
- Improper care or hygiene that causes infections
- Incorrect use of a medical device
- Medication errors
- Misreading or misinterpretation of diagnostic or laboratory results
- Ordering the incorrect tests for a patient
How often do medical errors occur?
According to multiple studies, medical errors are now considered the third leading cause of death in the U.S., causing the loss of between 250,000 and 440,000 victims each year. One of the most frequent places that medical errors occur is in the emergency room. Victims of medical errors may be able to pursue a malpractice case against the medical professional responsible.
How does a Virginia medical malpractice attorney prove that a duty of care exists?
Types of evidence that show the existence of a health provider’s or health care facility’s duty of care to a patient include
- Patient records generated by the provider and kept by the facility
- Bills issued to the patient
- Prescription orders issued by the provider
- Insurance claims that name the provider or facility
- Procedural notes kept by the provider
These kinds of paperwork, even when they are all digital, establish the existence of a relationship between a patient and a provider or facility. Once such a relationship exists, the provider or facility has a duty of care.
Who has a duty of care to a patient who suffered from a medical error?
Health care providers and health care facilities can be held legally responsible for breaching their duty of care for a patient.
Examples of practitioners who can be named as defendants (“respondents” in legalese) in medical malpractice cases include
These licensed health care providers are legally responsible for the actions and decisions of their assistants and aides. So, for example, if a pharmacy technician dispenses the wrong drug to the wrong patient, the pharmacist who was supervising the technician at the time that the error was made would be named as the defendant in the medical malpractice lawsuit.
Examples of health care facilities that take on a duty of care include
- Group practices
- Nursing homes
- Assisted living communities
The facility is responsible for hiring, training, equipping and supervising health care providers, as well as for ensuring that patients receive services in a clean and safe setting.