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Improper Use Of Surgical Devices Can Lead To Medical Malpractice

Posted on: August 31st, 2016 by Romanucci & Blandin

When you find yourself facing surgery or a medical procedure, you trust your doctor and surgeon to keep your health and safety first.  Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case and patients can come away from surgery worse than before.  Medical malpractice covers a broad range of issues but one of the most shocking is when doctors use surgical devices in a way other than what they were originally created for.

110308-N-7491B-039 SAN DIEGO (March 8, 2011) Surgical technician Arnie Bermudez, left, assists Cmdr. Alexander E. Stewart, a rhinologist, during a septoplasty and turb reduction on a patient in the Otolaryngology Department operating room at Naval Medical Center San Diego. The department has 70 staff members and treats more than 20,000 patients a year with medical conditions such as speech, audiology, sinus, vocal cord and swallowing problems. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Joseph A. Boomhower/Released)

Medical devices like implants or artificial valves must be cleared by the FDA for use but once they have been cleared they can be used for any medical purpose, even ones it was not intended for when created.  You might think that this would never happen, that your doctor would be extremely careful and make sure they do everything by the book when it comes to surgeries or treatments but, sadly, it happens all too often.

In 2015, about 24% of malpractice cases that ended in a payout were due to surgical mistakes with about 30% of patients dying and 18% permanently damaged.  In a truly harrowing case, a young child was subjected to over 20 experimental surgeries for a pre-existing condition and in one of those surgeries, the use of an off-label needle caused significant and permanent brain damage and cerebral palsy.  This resulted in a $30 million payout, the fourth largest medical malpractice settlement for a minor in Illinois.

So what can you do to help prevent this from happening to you?  There are a few steps you can take to prevent any medical error, but if you are going in for surgery:  

  • Choose a hospital that has done your procedure many times before.
  • Make sure you, your doctor, and your surgeon are all on the same page and agree on exactly what is going to be done.  
  • Create a plan for if something goes wrong during the surgery and decide what emergency action should be taken.
  • Ask plenty of questions and understand all risks of the procedure.
  • Have someone, like a family member, accompany you to all appointments.

If you are a victim of medical malpractice do not hesitate to seek legal counsel and get the justice you deserve.

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