Surgical Malpractice

Surgery today is commonplace. On average, more than fifty million operations are performed each year. Many of these surgeries are performed on an outpatient, or ambulatory, basis and do not require overnight hospitalization. The scope of the procedures is huge and range from seemingly mundane cataract procedures to complex neurosurgery.

Despite medicine’s dazzling developments and successes in surgery, there is still a substantial amount of harm that occurs. More than 150,000 patients die each year following surgery—which is greater than three times the number of deaths from traffic fatalities. Further, research shows that at least half of these surgical deaths, and the major complications arising from surgery, are avoidable. In other words, the harm is due to preventable medical negligence. (See “The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right” by Atul Gawande, MD, and “Safe Patients, Smart Hospitals” by Peter Pronovost, MD)

Serious complications can stem from any of the following: inadequate preoperative planning and assessment of the patient; failing to inform the patient of the potential risks of a proposed surgery and its reasonable alternatives; a surgical team’s choice to ignore a checklist; failing to work together; miscommunication; using equipment that is not properly sterilized, in a surgical suite that is not properly cleaned; identifying the wrong surgical site; misplacing a decimal point, resulting in a tenfold dose of medication by the anesthesiologist; failing to account for all surgical equipment before closure; allowing a fatigued doctor to operate; scheduling a surgeon for multiple procedures between two operating rooms; or, in the most egregious cases, allowing a physician who is not competent to perform surgery.

At the Dennehy Law Firm, we work with medical specialists and review myriad medical texts and articles in order to connect the complex and countless dots. We look at the case from multiple angles and back-chain as far back as we can to discover the chinks in the system that led to the catastrophe. We want to know the WHY of a negligent event, how could it happen? We take our ideas and information and combine and re-combine them to build our strategic case. We formulate different structures and themes with our ideas. It is this basic work that comprises our structure for the case. And if our client wishes, we actively work with them to prepare and put together our case.

We have represented patients and their families in many surgical negligence cases. We know that we can never make our clients completely whole again and return them to where they were before they suffered a malpractice injury. Nonetheless, we work diligently within the civil justice system to recover fair compensation to restore our clients as best as possible. To that end, our firm has recovered millions of dollars in surgical malpractice cases in both verdicts and settlements.