Cherry Hill Medical Malpractice Lawyer: Liability for Surgical Errors

Posted on September 23, 2016 in Medical Malpractice by

When undergoing a surgery or other medical procedure, you have the right to expect that mistakes which cause you injury will not be made. Patients trust their surgeons to have a level of skill and experience that enables them to perform their duties without error.  Sadly, however, mistakes do happen, and often these mistakes cause lasting harm to patients.

In some cases, surgical errors are not discovered for weeks, months, or even years after they occur. For example, a foreign object or piece of medical equipment could be left inside a patient and remain there without causing harm until long after surgery was performed. In cases such as these, the patient may be unable to remember who the operating surgeon was, or unable to locate the surgeon if he or she no longer practices at the same hospital.

Regardless of how much time has passed since the original procedure was performed, medical mistakes that cause injury or illness are unacceptable. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a surgical mistake, seek the assistance of a qualified medical malpractice lawyer immediately. Oftentimes, many contributing factors lead to medical mistakes, and it may not only be a doctor who is liable for injuries resulting from surgical error. The hospital in which the procedure was performed may be held vicariously liable for a doctor’s negligence.

Hospitals Held Responsible for Surgical Mistakes Made by Doctors

Under the legal doctrine known as respondeat superior, or “let the master answer,” an employer can be held liable for the negligence of its employees as long as the negligent act occurred within the scope of employment. In other words, a hospital may be held vicariously liable for the medical mistake of a doctor as long as certain criteria can be proved.   This includes:

  • The injury occurred while the employee was on the clock
  • The injury was caused by an activity the employee was hired to perform
  • The employer benefited in some way from the activity the employee was performing at the time of the injury

It is not uncommon for hospitals to claim that the doctors who perform procedures at the hospital are not employees, but rather are independent contractors, and therefore there is no presence of hospital malpractice.

However, a hospital may be held liable for its own negligence if, for example, it failed to properly investigate the credentials of an attending physician before allowing him or her to perform procedures at the hospital, or if it has allowed a physician whom it knew or should have known was incompetent to treat patients.

Vicarious liability does not only apply to hospitals when mistakes are made. Doctors themselves may be held liable for mistakes that resulted from the negligence of the staff assisting in the procedure or caring for the patient post-op. This includes mistakes made by interns or medical students who were performing under the doctor’s guidance.

If you are not recovering as expected from a recent surgery, or have discovered a surgical error, it is essential to contact an experienced medical malpractice lawyer immediately.  Each state has its own Statute of Limitations for medical malpractice cases, and there is only a limited time in which you can claim compensation for damages.

Cherry Hill Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Folkman Law Represent Victims of Surgical Errors

If you suspect that a medical mistake was made during a surgical procedure, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim. The experienced and highly skilled Cherry Hill medical malpractice lawyers at Folkman Law will work hard to ensure that all responsible parties are held accountable for any injuries you sustained as a result of their negligence. For your free case evaluation, call us at 856-354-9444, or submit an online contact form. We represent clients throughout South Jersey, Philadelphia, Southeastern Pennsylvania including in King of Prussia.