Surgery Error Claims

Giving one’s consent to undergo surgery involves considerable trust on the part of the patient. Indeed, in some cases, it can be a life or death decision. However, it is also a fact that operations have an inherent risk – as documented in media reports, even relatively minor surgical procedures can go wrong.

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The Impact of Surgery Errors

Thankfully, in the vast majority of operations and courses of treatment, the standard of care provided is excellent, good or at least acceptable. Despite these positive results, though, sometimes the outcome is not what the patient expected; the condition may even worsen. There could be unfortunate and unavoidable complications, accidental injuries or even negligence cases in which the surgical team fail to meet the required standards.

Irrespective of whether such failures are due to incompetence, negligence, an oversight, a temporary lapse, a genuine mistake and whether the anaesthetist, nursing staff or surgeon and doctors are to blame, the impact may be life-changing. Individuals’ lives could undergo sudden and permanent change.

Although compensation payments do not change what has happened in the past or heal mental or physical injuries, a successful claim will make daily life more manageable. In particular, compensation aims to meet rehabilitation costs, travelling expenses and lost earnings while also providing ongoing medical care. Additionally, there might be a need for adjustments to the home.

Examples of surgical errors and compensation claims

Some examples of errors that lead to successful compensation claims include:

Also, other surgical mistakes might inflict lasting consequences and give rise to a valid claim for surgical compensation. Here, we list some of the most prevalent. Notably, this list is not exhaustive. If you consider that your health has been affected by a surgical error and poor quality treatment or care, we suggest that you contact our expert legal advisers to assess your case and offer you free initial advice.

Claiming compensation for surgical errors

If the medical staff do not properly explain the surgery, its inherent risks and the necessary post-surgical care procedures, perhaps due to workload, tiredness or periodic drops in quality standards, there could be unexpected negative consequences. Proper information is essential for the patient to provide informed consent.

If you think your health has suffered due to an error during surgery, the first step is to arrange an initial consultation to review the history of the case and to evaluate the circumstances. Then, our expert solicitors will offer honest and realistic advice regarding a possible claim for surgical errors.

Our legal expertise

For a surgical error claim to be successful, lawyers have to prove that the medical team provided care in a manner that dropped below reasonably standards. Often, the legal arguments involve highly technical points and intricate detail. Cases characteristically take considerable time to reach a hearing, due to the weight of evidence on both sides. Finally, expert testimonies could well be required to support the claim.

Hip replacement surgery and severed nerves

During hip replacement operations, the sciatic, genitofemoral and obturator nerves may suffer injury due to surgical incision, cauterisation or stretching. Sciatic nerve injuries are more common than the surgical trauma of the femoral or obturator nerves

Although surgeons strive to avoid problems during hip surgery, exposed nerves could rub against the knee bone. As a result, the stretched nerves might lead to postoperative weakness in the associated foot. Fortunately, recovery is usually spontaneous, though it can take months. At such times, specialists might recommend a foot splint or support. Also, some numbness might be present around the incision.

Knee replacement surgery and nerve damage

As excruciating as untreated knee pain can be, surgical replacement may itself cause injury to the surrounding nerves and blood vessels. Although most knee operations have a positive outcome, nerve damage can occur on rare occasions, as distinct from the usual level of numbness during post-operative recuperation.

Fortunately, most cases of nerve damage improve within six to twelve months as the nerves regenerate themselves. Additionally, there might be some numbness at the front of the knee and the outer sides of the incision (over the kneecap). Here, again, sensation usually returns within a few months. However, the effects of knee operations may include weakness and, in the worst cases, surgery might not resolve the original joint pain.

In 2013, researchers carried out a study (Footnote 1) that evaluated the progress of 73 patients who had undergone knee replacement operations (also known as total knee arthroplasty, or TKA) in the year 2011. The resulting report noted that the saphenous nerve is prone to injury during arthroplasty. Correspondingly, more than a quarter (27 percent) of patients subsequently noticed some numbness that decreased over time but did not always disappear completely. Consequently, the report’s authors recommended that medical teams adequately discuss this possible effect in patient consultations before operations.

Hernia surgery damage to the inguinal and genitofemoral nerves

Surgery to repair a hernia (also known as herniorrhaphy) could damage the inguinal nerve that connects the lumbar region to the groin area. In fact, the ilioinguinal nerve is one of the most commonly injured during hernia repair operations, whereas the femoral branch of the genitofemoral nerve is the area most at risk during laparoscopy procedures.

Surgery in the region of the genitofemoral nerve may affect the lower limbs. This nerve system varies significantly from person to person as it passes through the abdomen and divides into trunks to transmit sensation throughout the front parts of the upper thighs. According to a critical study published in 2015, some experts consider the nerve one of the most variable in the lumbar plexus or lower spinal region: it follows different routes and some branches do not even exist in every individual. A study of two hundred anatomical subjects found that the nerve is a single trunk in approximately four-fifths of humans, but forms separate branches in the remainder. Such variation and diversity might complicate surgical planning and procedure and increase the possibility of nerve injury.

Damage to nerves from surgery to remove tumours

In surgical procedures to excise (remove) tumours, nerves might be damaged or cut as part of the procedure. Excision of a tumour causes a loss of feeling (numbness), localised tingling or changes in sensation. Depending on the exact type of operation, the skill of the surgical team and the individual patient, nerve damage can appear long after the operation itself and may last a long time.

Recent statistics suggest that orthopaedic surgery and general surgery account for over a quarter (26 percent) of medical negligence claims including surgical errors. If you have been affected in this way, you may wish to consider claiming compensation.

Common Questions  Relating to Surgical Claims

In this scenario a claim must be undertaken by a “litigation friend”: this is usually a close family friend, family member, or a spouse who acts in the best interest of the victim.
How much you can claim will depend very much on the impact and severity of the injury received.

You may need to be assessed by a medical team for us to better understand your limitations caused by your injury.

Compensation will take into account future physical and psychological support required, specialist equipment and adaptions to your home that are needed. Also, any future pain and suffering that you may experience will be taken into account alongside the loss of work and income related to your injury.

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to negligence please contact one of our specialist solicitors on 0333 987 4161 to discuss your claim.

In The News

Unfortunately, due to an error during routine surgery, a retired electrician spent more than a week with false teeth lodged down his throat. According to a recent news report in the BMJ(British Medical Journal), the shocking incident was not the first time that dentures have found themselves lodged in patients’ windpipes as a result of general anaesthesia.

In this case, the partial denture comprised a metal plate and three top front teeth. Initially, the seventy-two-year-old man had undergone a relatively routine operation to remove a benign growth from the wall of his abdomen. The procedure took place under general anaesthetic with intubation, as is usual.

Read more . . 

Readers of popular national news services recently saw horrifying pictures illustrating the effects of a flesh-eating parapharyngeal abscess in a young woman’s neck. Significantly, the graphic images showed how the neck abscess case required intensive care and extended treatment after an initial misdiagnosis.

In March this year (2019), Stacey Raymond, a 32-year old office manager, visited her general practitioner in London to present a bad case of sore throat. However, despite complaining that she could barely drink or eat due to the discomfort and pain, the GP mistakenly diagnosed tonsillitis, a less severe illness. The family doctor sent the patient home with a prescription for antibiotics to treat the swelling.

Read More

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