Many desirable things, but good health and a sound mind remain paramount. One of the most mind boggling questions for victims of surgical negligence is “can you sue if surgery goes wrong?” This article tells you all you need to know.
When people experience bodily health complications that require intense medical attention, surgery may become necessary for complete recovery. Although surgeries are not without risks, some surgical errors are simply avoidable.
Fact about surgical error claims
Surgical errors are injuries or any form of harm caused by a mistake made by a doctor during a surgical process, which could have been avoided if the doctor was more cautious or careful during the procedure.
Surgical errors are more common when working with inexperienced doctors, but even experienced doctors can and do make mistakes. These errors sometimes may be as a result of surgical negligence and clear recklessness on the doctor’s part. Where this is the case, it is possible to file a surgical error lawsuit against the doctor or the medical practitioner involved with the surgical operation error.
However, suing a hospital or making a GP surgery claim or an ‘operation gone wrong claim’ against a surgeon isn’t always easy. This is because proving that another person is responsible for your pain and suffering is not as straightforward as it sounds.
When it comes to making surgical negligence claims, expertise and experience only obtainable with reliable legal counsel is very necessary. You will need an experienced surgical negligence lawyer that will guide you through the legal process and heighten your chances of getting compensation for the consequences you may have suffered due to surgical errors.
There are important things to keep in mind or put in place when pursuing surgical negligence claims, and in the remainder of this article, we will guide you through them all.
What Do I Need For A Surgical Error Claim?
The first thing to have in mind before making a claim against a surgeon or even suing a hospital for medical negligence is that you will have to provide proof that some form of negligent treatment actually occurred. As a victim of doctor’s surgery negligence, you will be required to provide evidence for your claim. This is only possible only when you have been able to identify the error.
There are many forms of surgical errors which you can claim compensation for. They include:
- Wrong-site surgery: This happens when the doctor in charge of the surgery fails to realize which body part required the surgery. It is possible for a doctor to carry out an entire operation on the wrong body part only to realize when the surgery is over. A doctor who operates on the healthy left ear instead of the unhealthy right ear, has committed a big blunder and can be sued for medical negligence. Mistakes as profound as this are known as “never events”.
- Wrong Patient surgery: This is very common in hospitals where there are so many patients coming and leaving such that they are unable to keep adequate patient’s record in real time. In this kind of situation, a doctor can mix things up and carry out an entire operation on the wrong patient. You can make a claim when this happens.
- Retained Surgical Instruments: This is another form of never event and it happens when a surgeon leaves a surgical tool used during the surgery inside the patient. A lot of tools are required for surgery and they vary for different kinds of surgical operations. It is possible for a doctor to forget one of these tools inside a patient after the operation, and this too is a form of surgical negligence.
- Not getting consent from the patient: This doesn’t only happen when the doctor carries out an operation without telling the patient, this includes situations where the doctor hides or omits important information, which could help the patient make a more informed decision.
While explaining the surgical procedure to the patient, doctors and surgeons are expected to be thorough. This is where we answer the questions, “can I sue my doctor for lying to me or for hiding information from me?’ Simple answer is yes you can. When the doctor holds back information involving a better alternative to the surgery, you can request an unnecessary surgery compensation.
- Anesthesia error: The major reason for the use of anesthesia is to make the operation painless for the patient. Things can go wrong with this too, especially when the doctor administers more or less than the standard dosage required to put the patient out during the period of the operation.
- Performing recklessly: Every medical professional needs to work with high level precision and care in order not to endanger the lives of their patients. A doctor will need to be careful when operating on a patient, because any mistake that goes unnoticed for long or even during the operation can hamper both the doctors’ surgery and the patients’ life.
- Infection: This can be caused by un-sanitized instruments or surgical tools used by the doctor during the surgical operation.
How To Sue A Surgeon?
Now that you know exactly what you can sue a surgeon or hospital for, it is equally important that you understand the ways which different kinds of doctors can be sued.
When suing for surgeon negligence or filing a lawsuit against a hospital for misdiagnosis, it must be done correctly.
Here, we are going to outline different circumstances for suing different kinds of doctor’s negligence:
- You will need to sue the doctor responsible for the surgical errors personally, if the doctor is a private consultant whose services you employed for the operation.
- If the surgeon works for a private hospital, you will have to sue the hospital management in any case of surgical misconduct. This is the same, even if the hospital is operated by a private firm; you can sue the company operating the hospital.
- In a case where the surgeon responsible for the surgical negligence works for an NHS hospital, you can then sue the NHS trust that manages the hospital or supervises the hospital’s operations. It can be seen as NHS clinical negligence.
- If you worked with your GP, and the outcome turns out to be a surgery gone wrong, you will have to sue your GP personally, even if they work for the NHS or have an affiliation with a private hospital. If you contracted the doctor on a personal basis, you will have to sue them that way too. In such cases, the doctor will be represented by their legal counsel who will pay all costs for the surgical error claims the doctor is found responsible for.
- Very often than not, especially during medical emergencies, patients receive NHS care from the closest private hospital. In many cases, complications arise that culminate into surgical errors. You will then be required to seek professional legal advice from your legal organization or counsel before you can decide who would take the blame – the NHS or the private hospital.
These are the various circumstances for making surgical error claims against a doctor, your GP, the NHS or suing a hospital for negligence during a surgical operation.
Take the steps below to make a claim for surgery gone wrong
- Contact an expert medical negligence solicitor who is specialized in handling surgical negligence claims. You can reach out to us today for a free claims assessment.
- Present your evidence to your solicitor to enable them develop a strong claim for your case.
- Next, choose a preferred funding option from the options presented to you by your solicitor
- Your solicitor will act on your behalf to present your case to the defendant and would negotiate maximum compensation for you.
How Long Do You Have After A Failed Surgery To Sue For Surgical Errors?
According to the Limitation Act of 1980, you will normally have three years from the date of the negligent treatment or when you became aware of it to make a claim.
However, in certain surgical claims cases, the statute of limitations is relaxed especially if the person continues to require treatment and so claims may have to wait until when the future prognosis can be fully determined.
Also, if the error causes the person to be mentally incapacitated and unable to make claims, time can be allowed for the victim to recover before the claims process can begin.
Additionally, if a child is involved, the three-year time limit will only become effective when he or she turns 18. Prior to that time, claims can be started at any time.
However, your chances of having a successful claim is increased when you begin your claims as early as possible. This is why we ask loved ones of the victim to come forward and make claims on behalf of the sufferer as claims are less complex and quite easier to win when they are started in good time.
This is because evidence may begin to lose its substantiality with fleeting time. When it comes to medical cases, time is of great essence, because the defendant and his representatives can bank on your disregard for timing to turn the case in their favour.
What You Can Claim Compensation For After A Failed Surgery?
We believe that every failed attempt in getting justice is a consolidation of injustice. One of the reasons you need to sue in cases involving surgical errors, is to help the system get better and to ensure that more care is taken when operating on people.
Another reason for suing for surgical errors is to ensure that the patient gets fully healthy after the error, this is why compensations are necessary, in many cases, to help the patient get better treatment and medical attention.
Here are some things to claim a compensation for:
- Supplemental medical or hospital bills for further treatment for the same case or cases that arise because of the surgical error.
- Compensations can be claimed for pains or sufferings that result from the medical malpractice or surgical error.
- A compensation can be requested for the wages the patient would have lost during the period they were unable to work due to the surgical error.
- In a case where the patient dies due to any form of surgical error, the family of the patient can file a case and make a claim for monetary compensation for wrongful death caused by the errors.
It is important to have this in mind before making a claim for this kind of medical malpractice. If the error was intentional, punitive damages (as punishment) can be employed. There is no known limit for compensating different kinds of medical malpractice yet, but average NHS negligence payout, according to NHS negligence solicitors, is capped at £50, 000. Compensations vary from case to case.
For example, compensation for spinal injuries caused by surgical errors, like lumbar spine injury compensation, spans between £1, 000 – £379, 000.
Can I Go Ahead & Sue A Hospital Without A Lawyer?
It is possible to sue a hospital or even a doctor without a lawyer. But it is all dependent on the kind of medical case you will be suing for. The more complex the case is, the more important it is for you to employ the services of an expert medical negligence lawyer to defend you, even if the case gets to court.
If you decide to go ahead and file a lawsuit without a lawyer, these are the steps you have to take;
- File the motion at the court
- After which you will need to gather evidences to back up your claim
- The next thing is that you will have to involve witnesses who are willing to talk and then run a cross examination on them.
- Lastly, you will need to appear in court on each day the case will be read and you will be required to meet all court deadlines.
During your preparation, you should have in mind that you will be
- Making an opening statement,
- Prepare and ask questions in court,
- And must conduct yourself as the court dictates, when the trial begins.
This may sound or look very easy on the outside but in an instance of all that it truly entails, it won’t be difficult to realize how difficult these things can be for a non-legal professional. By employing the services of an expert legal representative, you will have nothing to lose whilst also getting the best legal advice and representation during your surgical error case.
When suing an NHS hospital, you will be required to follow the NHS complaints procedure before proceeding to file for a claim
You need to really consider the complexity of the case before you make a claim for any form of medical malpractice in the UK. This is basically because, as the claimant, you will be required to provide medical and legal backups for your claim, and this, in itself, is not a very simple thing to do, especially if you are still battling the pains or consequences of the surgical error.
How Our Lawyers Can Assist You?
Our medical negligence solicitors operate a no win no fee basis. This simply means that there is no risk of financial loss to you in the event of an unsuccessful claim. Reach out to us today with your case if you believe you have been a victim of surgical negligence.
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