In medicine, preventable surgical mistakes are commonly called “never events” because they should never happen to patients. Despite this name, every year thousands of people experience serious medical issues due to surgical errors.
If you or a loved one had a medical procedure that went wrong because of doctor negligence or error, take these steps to get the required health care and assert your legal rights.
Know the signs of issues
After a surgery, seek immediate medical attention if you experience signs of complications. These symptoms may include fever, intense pain, redness or swelling near the surgical site, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, and burning or pain during urination.
Document follow-up care
When another health care provider diagnoses a surgical error, be sure to keep track of his or her recommendations and the cost of follow-up care to correct the error and treat associated health problems. You can seek damages for your past, current and future medical costs as well as lost wages, pain and suffering and other results of the error.
Surgical errors constitute medical malpractice when the surgeon failed to exercise a reasonable standard of care. The court establishes this standard using the testimony of medical experts in the same field as the doctor facing accusations of the error. Common errors involve administration of anesthesia or other pre- or postoperative medications, internal organ damage, infection, surgical instrument left in the body after the procedure and surgery performed on the wrong part of the body.
File a claim
In Louisiana, patients have one year after discovery of the surgical error to file a medical malpractice claim and within three years of the surgery regardless of the discovery date for the injury.
The state’s Patient Compensation Fund will appoint a panel of experts to review your claim. This panel will determine whether malpractice caused your injuries and award an appropriate financial settlement. Although Louisiana caps damages at $500,000, no cap applies to future medical expenses.