Surgery comes with risk. Sometimes the greatest surgical risks are after the surgery has occurred. Complications from post-surgical that lead to malpractice lawsuits are either (1) failure to identify and treat new complications, or (2) failure to identify a problem that occurred during the surgery that is now beginning to manifest.Failure to identify and treat new complications
The standard of care for many surgical procedures requires that the doctors and nurses monitor their patients by staying current and adequately informed on the patient's post-surgery progress or lack of progress. The specific requirements depend, of course, on the surgery. There are specific known complications with a given procedure that should be known and promptly identified when the symptomology is presented. More generally, we are talking about such things as monitoring lab values and vital statistics, responses to medication, radiology and x-ray reports. Often, this involves the basics: blood pressure, heart rate, hematocrit, hemoglobin, and the patient's pain rating.Post-Surgical Bleeding
One common post-surgical risk is bleedings, specifically internal bleeding. The failure to timely recognize the signs and symptoms of a post-surgical bleed or the failure to arrange the appropriate treatment of a post-surgical bleed can be catastrophic. Common serious complications include cardiovascular collapse, failure, hypovolemic shock, and an inability to clot. The consequences of improper management of an active internal bleed is medical malpractice.Blood Clots
The opposite problem of post-surgical bleeding is blood clots. Blood clots, usually in the legs, can migrate to the patient’s lungs and can cause a pulmonary embolism, stroke or other cardiac condition.
Blood clots can cause serious harm without meaningful symptoms. But there are often warning signs that doctors and nurses miss. Pain or swelling in the legs is a sign of a problem. If the patient has chest pain or shortness of breath, that is a sign that the clot may be moving to or in the lungs.Atelectasis (Partially Collapsed Lung)
Another potential post-surgery complication is Atelectasis. After surgery to the chest or abdomen, there is an incision. Pain comes with that incision. So patients tend to avoid that pain by not breathing as deeply as normal. As a result, the lungs will not stay open. When that happens oxygen does not get into the blood and oxygenation drops. The mucus that is usually cleared out by normal breathing and coughing builds up and can cause complications, particularly pneumonia in older patients. The key is identifying the problem quickly -- faster heart rates, dropping oxygenation and shortness of breath are the most basic clues. The standard of care in some cases might also require a spirometer which measures inhalation.Infection
Post-surgical infections are common and are the mostly likely because for a return to the hospital after a surgical procedure. So why is this last on our list? While it is not impossible, it is hard to bring a claim for fact that there is an infection in the first place. While it is very often the result of negligence, it is extremely difficult to prove. The more common post-surgical infection medical malpractice claim is the failure to diagnose and properly manage the infection. Call our Cherry Hill, New Jersey office at 856-616-8080 for a consultation with experienced and dedicated malpractice lawyers.Getting a Lawyer to Help You
If you or someone you love has been seriously injured or killed as the result of post-surgical mismanagement, call Miller & Zois at 800-553-8082 for a free consultation or get a no obligation case review online.
Our attorney are based in Maryland which is the venue for the majority of the cases we handle. In particularly compelling catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases, we handle claims outside of Maryland. Either way, reach out to us and we will steer you in the right direction.