Medical Negligence in Post-Operative Treatment
Doctors can make dangerous mistakes during any phase of a patient’s treatment. When patients think about the risks of surgery, they often think about what could happen during the operation itself. They may not consider the risks that continue afterward during the post-operative recovery period.
Can You Sue if a Doctor Made a Mistake During Your Post-Op Care?
You may have a case for medical malpractice if a doctor or other health professional made a mistake during your or a loved one’s post-operative treatment. However, not every medical mistake is malpractice. To be considered malpractice, a medical error must be negligent, and it must cause harm to the patient. Mistakes that are not negligent or that do not actually harm anyone are not malpractice.
What Does It Mean to Say a Doctor’s Mistake Was Negligent?
Doctors and other healthcare professionals have a duty to perform up to a certain standard of care. That standard is usually defined as the level of care a reasonably competent medical professional would use in a similar situation and in the same community. If the professional fails to meet this standard, then he or she is negligent.
For example, say a patient in post-operative care developed an infection, the patient’s doctor didn’t notice it in time and, as a result, the patient got very sick or even died. Was the doctor’s lack of attention negligence? The answer is that it depends. If other doctors in the community who were reasonably competent would have identified the infection in a similar situation, then the doctor’s performance would fall below the legal standard, and he or she would be negligent.
It’s often not obvious when a mistake or a lack of care falls to the level of negligence. Proving negligence in a medical malpractice lawsuit requires getting expert testimony from doctors who can evaluate the local medical standards and give their expert opinions on whether the professional being sued failed to meet those standards. An experienced medical malpractice attorney knows how to find the right medical experts and how to use their testimony to build a strong case.
Types of Post-Operative Medical Negligence
Patients receiving post-operative treatment need to be carefully monitored because they are especially vulnerable to infections and other serious problems after surgery. Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals must provide a level of attention that meets the legal standard of care. If these professionals fail to monitor a post-operative patient closely enough, their behavior may be negligent.
Medical personnel providing post-op recovery must follow the correct procedures. These procedures help ensure that patients get the right medications at the correct times, have their bandages or other surgical dressings changed at appropriate intervals, have their vital signs checked when needed and that all other treatments and monitoring are properly provided. All equipment must be kept in a sanitary condition. Failing to follow the medically accepted procedures may be evidence of negligence.
Infection and Sepsis
A serious risk of surgery is that surgical wounds may become infected. This can have severe consequences if the infection spreads throughout the body and develops into sepsis, which could be fatal. During the post-operative recovery phase, medical personnel should monitor patients and, if they detect infection, treat it quickly and correctly.
Shock is another dangerous potential post-operative complication. When a patient goes into shock, their blood pressure drops to a dangerous level, and the result can be organ failure or death. Doctors attending post-operative patients must apply immediate emergency treatment if a patient goes into shock.
Other Post-Operative Complications
After surgery, patients may be at increased risk for blood clots. A blood clot can become a pulmonary embolism, which travels to the lungs and may be fatal. Other post-operative complications that medical personnel must watch out for include excessive bleeding from the surgical wound, a bladder that doesn’t drain, and allergic reactions to anesthesia. Doctors and other medical professionals have a duty to check for these conditions and treat them appropriately.
Injuries Caused by Post-Operative Medical Negligence
If a post-operative patient has a condition that their doctors do not properly detect and treat, the patient can be harmed in a variety of ways. Some conditions, such as sepsis, shock, and pulmonary embolism, can be fatal. Other conditions can cause health problems that may be debilitating and expensive to treat. Patients who are victims of medical negligence may also experience emotional harm.
Any time that a medical professional’s negligence makes the patient’s health worse than it was, or causes unreasonable complications, or creates a condition where the patient has to get more medical treatment, the patient may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
To prove medical malpractice, you need to show that the doctor or other professional was negligent, that your health was harmed, and that the negligence was the cause of that harm. These are complex and technical areas of the law, so you should consult a lawyer with experience in medical malpractice.
Contact the Medical Malpractice Legal Team at Raynes Lawn Hehmeyer for a Free Consultation
It may be difficult for many people to face the possibility that doctors or other professionals, who you trust to make you better, may have made you worse because they didn’t do their job correctly. But a medical error can cause you a great deal of suffering and expense, and it is only fair that you receive the extra help you need.
If you believe that you or a loved one were harmed by a medical professional’s negligence during post-operative treatment, we would be glad to talk to you. We will evaluate your situation and tell you if we think you have a good claim for medical malpractice. There is no cost or obligation for a consultation.
The medical malpractice team at Raynes & Lawn is dedicated to helping our clients. We are honored to have been recognized throughout the state and the country for our excellence. Call us at 1-800-535-1797 or contact us online to schedule your consultation.
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