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When Surgical Errors Qualify As Medical Malpractice

Canadian law has made clear the point where a surgeon passes an imaginary line and joins others in the field of medicine that have been accused of medical malpractice. Canadian doctors can be charged with malpractice by you or your personal injury lawyer in Waterloo when their negligence falls to a level that lies below the standard of care.

Questions raised when someone has charged a surgeon with exhibiting that level of negligence:

Was there good pre-operative planning? Was the surgical team prepared to handle any possible complications?

Were the proper procedures followed? Did the surgeon try using any shortcut? Did the surgeon’s experience match with the procedure that he or she attempted to perform?

Mistakes that surgeons should seek to prevent:

Not striving for good communications: All members of the surgical team should communicate with each other. In addition, both the surgeon and the anesthesiologist should speak with the patient before the operation.

Using defective equipment: Surgeons must work with members of the hospital staff, in order to be sure of access to safe and sterile equipment. Surgeons need to specify clearly the set up that will be needed in the operating room.

Working when exhausted: The surgeon’s schedule should demonstrate the surgeon’s desire to refrain from working when he or she is exhausted. Arrangements should be made for the replacement of some member of the surgical team that feels sick or overly tired.

Instances of malpractice that resulted from a surgeon’s negligence:

• An incision gets made in the wrong spot, or on the wrong side of the body. The correct location should be marked, both on the patient’s body and on the papers given to the surgical team.
• Anesthesiology errors; it is the surgeon’s responsibility to remain aware of what the anesthesiologist is doing.
• Nerve damage to the patient, which may result from inhalation of an excess amount of gas or exposure to an excess amount of anesthesia. A careless incision can also result in nerve damage.
• A piece of equipment gets left inside of the patient.
• Infection of a surgical wound: This problem can be made worse by the conditions in the area where the patient recovers from surgery. Normally, that is an intensive care unit. Care should be taken to limit the ability of germs to get into such a unit. That can call for introduction of measures that force visitors to comply with certain precautions.

On the other hand, it becomes the hospital’s job to enforce meaningful precautions. For instance, it makes no sense to ask that visitors wash their hands, if those same visitors do not cover their shoes in some way. There is a risk of infection during any operation. Hospitals must reduce the chances that any infection might become worse.

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