Can You Sue for Surgery Complications?

January 8, 2024 / RP Legal

If you suffer surgery complications that were not disclosed as a possibility of the procedure, you may qualify to bring a lawsuit. To see what you may receive for your case, talk to a Columbia medical malpractice lawyer at Rikard & Protopapas. Call 803-978-6111 or message us now to discuss your situation.

Lawsuits for Surgery Complications

Healthcare providers must meet adequate standards of care in delivering medical services. In the context of surgery, part of providing adequate medical care means discussing possible outcomes and complications.

A patient has the right to make an informed decision about their medical care. To decide whether to undergo surgery, they need to know about potential complications. They must weigh potential benefits against risks. Important disclosures include what complications are possible and whether they are likely. The information provided must be tailored to the circumstances of the patient.

Grounds to Sue for Surgery Complications

There are multiple ways a healthcare provider may be legally responsible for surgery complications.

Failing to disclose risks of surgical complications

A patient has the right to know what can go wrong when they have surgery. Patients aren’t expected to be medical professionals. Part of treating a patient means identifying possible complications and informing the patient. Ultimately, it is the patient who must weigh the benefits and risks and decide whether to proceed.

Failing to educate the patient in minimizing risks

Risks of surgery complications may be minimized with patient education and self-care. The patient needs to know what to do after surgery. When failing to educate the patient about post-surgical care results in complications, healthcare providers may be responsible for medical neglect.

Inadequate monitoring for signs of complications

If surgery complications are a possibility, a patient needs adequate monitoring. They may need post-surgery hospitalization or outpatient visits. Care providers may need to conduct an examination or tests. Failing to monitor a patient after surgery may be a breach of the reasonable standard of care.

Conducting a surgery with unreasonable risks of complications

Potential complications are something that a care provider should consider when they recommend surgery. They must determine whether the surgery is appropriate.

Negligence during surgery that results in complications

Sometimes, complications from surgery are the result of negligence. For example, unsanitary conditions can lead to infection. When a surgery is conducted negligently, and complications result, the victim may qualify to bring a lawsuit for compensation.

What Information Should Surgeons Disclose Before a Procedure?

Before a procedure, a surgeon should disclose:

  • The nature of the surgery
  • Expected results
  • Recovery period and limitations during healing
  • Possible complications
  • Alternative treatments available

To give informed consent to a surgery, the patient must have the relevant information to make a judgment call. A discussion of potential complications, both likely and unexpected, is an important part of disclosures before any surgical procedure.

Common Surgery Complications

Surgery complications may vary based on the type of procedure and characteristics of the patient.

Common surgery complications include:

  • Infection, fever
  • Stroke
  • Shock, low blood pressure
  • Bleeding, hemorrhage
  • Blood clots
  • Pulmonary embolism, lung problems, breathing difficulties
  • Urinary retention, constipation
  • Brain damage
  • Cardiovascular collapse
  • Pain
  • Muscle loss, mobility loss
  • Death

Compensation for Surgery Complications – Your Rights

If you have suffered complications because of surgery, here is what our lawyers want you to know:

  • You may receive financial compensation.
  • The legal standard is whether your complications are the result of medical malpractice. Failing to disclose potential complications, or failing to take reasonable steps to mitigate them, may amount to medical malpractice.
  • To receive compensation, you must bring a claim and prove medical malpractice.
  • Our lawyers can represent you. We are currently taking cases.
  • Compensation may include financial losses, including increased medical bills. You may also claim damages for physical suffering, mental injury and emotional anguish.

To succeed in a claim based on surgery complications, you must provide expert medical testimony to prove that the harm you suffered is the result of professional negligence.

As your lawyers, we work with medical experts to investigate your claim to document how medical negligence resulted in complications. We understand the types of damages you may claim. Our team handles all procedural steps to advance your case.

Apology Laws in South Carolina, § 19-1-190

S.C. Code § 19-1-190 is the South Carolina Unanticipated Medical Outcome Reconciliation Act. It’s more commonly known as the I’m Sorry or Apology Law in medical care. The law encourages patients and care providers to openly discuss unexpected complications that arise from medical care.

Expressing sympathy, an apology, or regret following surgery complications is not an admission of liability. Patients and care providers may freely discuss unanticipated outcomes. Conduct, statements and activity made between potential parties to a civil action, falling under § 19-1-190, are not admissible in evidence. A defendant may waive evidentiary exclusion of the conduct or statements if they choose.

What is the South Carolina medical error apology law?

The South Carolina medical error apology law says that if a medical care provider expresses sympathy or regret following an unanticipated medical outcome, their statements are not admissible in a civil action for medical malpractice. A medical care provider may assist a patient with an unexpected outcome and offer apologies without it being used against them in a legal claim for negligent medical care.

Does the medical error apology law mean that you can never sue for surgery complications?

No. The medical error apology law limits evidence of medical care provider statements and actions following surgery complications. However, the law doesn’t change the burden of medical care providers to adequately inform patients about the possibility of surgery complications.

Talk to a Lawyer After Suffering From Surgery Complications

We invite you for a free consultation with the Rikard & Protopapas medical malpractice lawyers about surgery complications.

Learn if you can sue. Explore your rights and options. Let our team answer your questions.

We’re here for you when the worst has happened. We advocate for victims of unexpected and unreasonable surgery complications. Call 803-978-6111 or message us now to discuss your case.

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