Surgeons, anesthesiologists, and surgical support staff are trained medical professionals who often have years of training and experience. However, even when physicians try their best to ensure that a procedure is completed without any complications, accidents still happen. The costs of a surgical error can be immense, driving a Rhode Island patient further into debt and compromising their ability to continue living healthy, independent lives.
Surgical Errors and Medical Malpractice
Every physician licensed to practice medicine in Rhode Island undergoes years of training and preparation before they are allowed to participate in or lead actual surgeries. However, even the best-trained, most experienced surgeons can make mistakes and inadvertently harm a patient by making a minor miscalculation.
Since every surgery involves an element of risk, patients are usually asked to sign a form acknowledging that they understand their procedure may not go as planned. When patients sign an informed consent form, they are effectively consenting both to the surgery and to its associated risks.
While informed consent forms protect physicians and hospitals from liability in the event that a patient suffers injuries that could not be reasonably foreseen, surgeons can still be held civilly liable for medical malpractice if they harm a patient by acting negligently.
Common Causes of Surgical Negligence and Medical Malpractice
Every surgical error has the potential to significantly impact and even irreversibly alter a patient’s life. While not every surgical error is the result of medical malpractice, patients may have a legal right to compensation if their injuries were caused by:
- Physician inexperience
- Medical incompetence
- Poor procedure planning
- Improper work processes
- Lack of communication between the surgeon and surgical support staff
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- General neglect
If you were injured by a negligent surgeon, you could be entitled to significant compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. However, your right to recovery could be contingent on the actions you take immediately after the surgery.
The Four Elements of a Medical Malpractice Claim
Every surgeon is required to carry and maintain a valid medical malpractice insurance policy. However, insurance companies are for-profit enterprises. Since paying injured patients can jeopardize a company’s bottom line, adjusters will typically search for any excuse to devalue or deny a patient’s claim.
If the insurance company is unwilling to negotiate a claim in good faith, you may have to file a lawsuit to recover your damages. As the plaintiff in a Rhode Island medical malpractice lawsuit, you must demonstrate that:
- You had a doctor-patient relationship with the surgeon.
- The surgeon did not provide a reasonable standard of care.
- The surgeon’s breach of the standard of care caused you harm.
- You sustained real damages and suffered harm as a result of the breach.
How to Prepare for a Medical Malpractice Claim
Since medical malpractice plaintiffs must definitively establish that the surgeon erred and subsequently injured them, evidence is critical in surgical error claims. You could prepare for an eventual claim by:
- Registering a formal, written complaint with the physician and hospital
- Documenting your injuries by taking photographs and noting your symptoms, such as pain, unexpected disability, or discomfort
- Visiting another physician for a second opinion
- Contacting an experienced Rhode Island medical malpractice attorney
Potential Damages in a Surgical Error Claim
- Your past, present, and anticipated medical expenses
- Physical rehabilitation
- Corrective surgery
- Lost income from work
- Diminished earning potential
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment
- Wrongful death
Unlike most states, Rhode Island does not cap or otherwise limit the damages that medical malpractice victims can recover through a personal injury lawsuit. You could receive as much compensation as you need to begin the difficult task of reclaiming your independence after an unexpected surgical error. However, you still need to act fast. While Rhode Island does not limit potential damages, the Plantation State does have a strict statute of limitations. If you wait too long to take action, your case could be automatically dismissed by the court without consideration.
Have You or a Loved One Been Injured by a Medical Practitioner?
If you feel you've been subjected to medical malpractice you need to speak with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Warwick office directly at 401.946.3200 to schedule your free consultation. We help medical malpractice victims in Providence, Warwick, and all areas of Rhode Island.