Medical Malpractice
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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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  • What is sepsis?

    Sepsis is a dangerous illness that happens when the body is forced to fight a severe infection that is spread through the bloodstream. The chemicals the body releases into the blood to fight the infection cause inflammation throughout the body. Severe cases of sepsis can cause septic shock, which can be fatal.

    There are more than 1.5 million cases of sepsis each year (per the CDC). Sepsis kills more than 250,000 people each year.

  • How common is medical malpractice?

    A survey conducted by the National Patient Safety Foundation reveals that more than 40 percent of patients believe they have been the victim of a medical error or improper medical diagnosis. A report prepared by the Institute of Medicine that there are up to 98,000 deaths each year because of medical malpractice. Another one million patients suffer injuries due to the negligence of a medical professional.

  • What are the negative impacts of medical misdiagnoses?

    National statistics show that medical misdiagnoses cause:

    • Long-term admissions: 3 million
    • Hospital admission: 8 million
    • Emergency room visits: 17 million
    • Unnecessary prescriptions: 77 million
    • Doctor visits: 116 million

  • How often does medical malpractice occur?

    According to statistics from the Journal of the American Medical Association, almost 300,000 deaths occur each year as a direct result of medical malpractice. These deaths are caused by the following:

    • Negative effects of medications result in 106,000 deaths each year
    • Infections occurring in hospitals result in 80,000 deaths each year
    • Non-medical errors in hospitals result in 20,000 deaths each year
    • Medical errors in hospitals result in 7,000 deaths each year
    • Unnecessary surgeries result in 2,000 deaths each year

  • 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
    • Misdiagnosis
    • 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
    • Death

  • 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.