Surgical Errors

There are over 1.4 million surgical operations performed under the NHS every year. Most of those procedures are performed successfully. Unfortunately, there are occasions when a straight forward procedure becomes complicated and critical decisions need to be made, or there is a failure to undertake the operation in a proper manner and as a result, something goes wrong. Every surgical procedure that takes place carries with it an element of risk.

However, if you are of the opinion the surgical procedure was not undertaken in a correct manner, or the outcome varied to what was expected, then you may have a claim for clinical/medical negligence. Should that be the case, you will want to talk to a solicitor who understands the complexity of such operations; that is where Andrew & Andrew Solicitors can assist. Sharing the ordeal is a good starting point and you can rely upon our extensive expertise. Attention to detail and obtaining a thorough statement from you as to the stages that occurred is very crucial and the sooner the incident is documented, the better in relation to remembering evidence.

There is a vast array of surgical error claims that can be brought and the list can be quite exhaustive, so we detail below an example of the most common surgical errors which would bring about a valid claim for compensation.

  • Incorrect dosage of anaesthesia– anaesthesia is a very complicated area as the slightest miscalculation or mix-up can result in some serious damage. If too much is administered, the patient may be deprived of oxygen, leading to brain damage and possible death and/or vital organs can be damaged. If not enough anaesthesia is given, then there is a risk that the patient may wake up sometime during the procedure.
  • Foreign objects left in the patient’s body– this is an all too frequent occurrence in which during surgery, surgical items such as clamps, scalpels, pads, gauzes or twine used for stitching remains inside the patient’s body. This can cause extreme pain, severe infections and even death. Incidents culminate in further surgery as an endeavour to identify the on-going patient’s condition and ultimately delays a healthy recovery.
  • Infection associated with contaminated surgical implements– hygiene is of the utmost importance in any surgical operation. A patient’s body is at risk whilst open and exposed during the operation. Equipment not being sterilised will bring forth infection and can grossly complicate recovery. This operational infection is quite separate from aftercare hospital acquired infections.
  • Damage to nerve tissue or muscles during surgery– a slip of the scalpel during an operation can have disastrous consequences. Any mistake resulting in a perforation of internal organs can lead to revision surgery, pain, infection and in more serious cases, disability or death.
  • Death – no amount of money can really compensate for your immeasurable loss where an operation results in the death of a patient, but it can go some way to help with the practicalities of financial commitments, to include compensation for the future care of any children of the family. Whilst dependants come to terms with the tragic death, Andrew & Andrew Solicitors can collate evidence and deal with the coroner’s hearing. By the full investigation of the case, the family of the deceased will have all their questions answered. Unfortunately, Andrew & Andrew Solicitors are quite experience in dealing with such tragic circumstances and we are able to support you emotionally and professionally through the difficult times.
  • Wrong Site Surgery – incidents of the wrong part of the body being operated on happens many times a year. This can range from a healthy kidney being removed still leaving the patient with a condition, or believe it or not, the wrong leg amputated. It is crucial at such times to instruct this practice, as obtaining the surgical team operation procedure notes is crucial and vital evidence can be gleaned.
  • Failure to warn/be made aware of associated risks of a surgical procedure– patient’s must be fully informed of all the risks associated with any procedure and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) was set up to ensure all patients’ receive the best care possible. If you undergo an operation and have not been informed of the risks, then your medical practitioner is in breach of the CQC guidelines. The surgical teams are busy, or perhaps an earlier operation took longer than initially thought, but for whatever reason, you as a patient were not fully apprised of the risk.
  • Failure to effectively seal/stitch/dress a wound– where stitching has been so ineffective that a wound splits open, clearly brings forth a claim of medical negligence. Such incidents can be compounded by infections that spring up too readily when the wound has not been attended to properly.
  • Hospital acquired infections– great strides have been made at hospitals to eradicate bugs and infections. However, with the volume of traffic attending national hospitals, it is not unsurprising that patients suffer what is referred to as ‘hospital acquired infections’. When there is an additional infection, the area becomes complicated as to how that infection occurred and was it because of a breach of a duty of care on behalf of the Trust.
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There are a range of different infections that can be contracted:-

  • (i)    MRSA – probably the most reported infection which tends to be resistant to a wide number of antibiotics. Such infections can be quite devastating to older or vulnerable patients.
  • (ii)   C.Difficile – this is a bacteria already in a patient’s body. However when it flares up, it can cause diarrhoea and if not treated properly, possibly death;
  • (iii)  E-Coli – this tends to be a common bacteria and generally harmless. Serious strains can cause dangerous food poison and on occasions could prove fatal;
  • (iv)  MSSA – this bacteria is very similar to MRSA and can be just as deadly.

Human error is generally at the heart of any surgical error and can leave the victim devastated. Clinical/medical negligence claims can be extremely complicated; a recent blessing is that there has been a change of approach by the NHS who, under the rules of the ‘Duty of Candour’, should be up-front when reporting their mistakes and errors. Due to this accepted Duty, NHS Hospitals are more inclined to admit fault.

Andrew & Andrew Solicitors have a vast array of historical experience in dealing with clinical/medical negligence claims and we can help you every step of the way. We provide an initial free, no obligation consultation where your case can be assessed by our professional experienced team. We are there to answer all of your questions using plain English and will act in your best interest in all circumstances.

Contacting us is easy; we have several telephone options for your calling convenience, you can make an enquiry via any of the contact boxes situated throughout our website, or you can contact us by social media networking.