When you’re having a surgical procedure at an outpatient center, you trust that the medical professionals taking care of you will do the correct procedure in a way that doesn’t bring any harm to you. A medical error has the potential to cause permanent life consequences. A mistake made in an operation will often result in additional surgeries, medical care, or even lifelong suffering. If this has happened to you, a Louisville surgery center malpractice lawyer may be able to help. Thomas Law Offices has handled cases involving surgical malpractice and negligence and we will find out what happened to you, why it happened, and who was responsible.
It’s also possible that a loved one lost their life during a surgical procedure. The unexpected loss of a loved one puts families in emotional and financial turmoil. You’re trying to grieve but also have to deal with piling expenses. This is not right. If you believe negligence led to your loved one’s death, we can help you seek justice and fair compensation.
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What Is a Surgery Center?
Outpatient surgery centers are where people can have surgical procedures done outside of a hospital. There are a few major advantages to these centers, the most notable of which is the fact that they take some of the scheduling pressure away from hospitals, so patients can get a surgery scheduled much quicker at a center than at a hospital.
In addition, most surgery center patients do not require long-term hospital care. Many procedures are relatively simple, and patients who have these surgeries can return home in as little as a few hours after their procedures. These kinds of surgeries are often called ambulatory surgeries and are the reason these centers exist. Most surgical centers will not take patients who do require long-term care after a procedure, in fact, and purposefully seek patients with low surgical risk factors.
These advantages can be beneficial because surgery centers help patients receive the care they need faster. Centers free up space in hospitals for those who really need extra care. However, there are considerable risks involved when patients have a procedure and are then sent home the same day—especially when the center taking care of them doesn’t take the precautions they should to ensure patients are well on their way to recovery before releasing them or are not prepared for emergencies.
What Kind of Mistakes Can Occur During Ambulatory Surgery?
Many different types of surgeries are performed at outpatient centers. People can have procedures on limbs, hips, hands, and feet, or procedures involving the vascular system and heart, brain, and eye. There are cosmetic procedures that can happen as well, like plastic surgery. Some people may undergo gastric bypass surgery. Regardless of the type of surgery, even minor surgical procedures may result in tragedy if something goes wrong when it shouldn’t.
While most procedures at surgery centers happen without incident, there are numerous issues that can occur during surgery. The center may perform wrong-site surgery, for instance, where they do the procedure on the wrong part of the patient. For example, a patient needs a procedure on their right arm, but the surgeons do the procedure on the left limb.
Complications can occur if the staff isn’t equipped to handle the procedure, such as not having enough training or not being familiar with the safety protocols. This can often lead to emergency situations that the surgical center may not be able to handle. Their resources aren’t the same as a hospital’s. If the situation is serious enough, the surgical center may need to call emergency services to get the patient to a hospital to receive immediate care. This can cause a serious delay in care—one that may result in dire consequences for the patient.
According to a Medicare investigative report, families are coming forward reporting instances where loved ones have passed away after having procedures at surgery centers where a mistake or incident occurred that could have been prevented. Numerous deaths were tied to a delay in emergency care after the patient suffered from complications.
The investigation looked at over 12,000 state and Medicare inspection records and autopsies and found that more than 260 patients have died since 2013 after having surgical procedures at surgery centers across the U.S. Many occurred after routine procedures like tonsillectomies and colonoscopies.
In a situation where a patient undergoing a procedure at a surgery center experiences a medical emergency, the following circumstances can lead to further injury or even death:
- When doctors or staff members trained in emergency care are no longer onsite (some surgery centers do not have a doctor available after the center closes for the day)
- When the center doesn’t have access to necessary emergency equipment
- When the center sends a recovering patient home too early
- When doctors or staff members are not trained in the type of emergency care required
Other situations can occur when patients are not properly monitored post-surgery. Infection can lead to further health complications. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that a study looking into ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs) in three states found that there were lapses in controlling infection. They looked into hand hygiene, personal protective equipment, sterilizing equipment and other high levels of disinfection methods, injection safety, environmental cleaning, and how the ASCs dealt with equipment that tracked blood glucose levels.
Why Are Surgery Center Lawsuits Being Filed?
Surgical centers are often owned by doctors who refer patients to their own centers. While this allows patients faster care, this also enables the owners to take large financial cuts from any procedures they perform. This can lead doctors to taking on riskier surgeries than they perhaps should. The above-mentioned investigation found that least 14 patients died after having complex spinal surgeries at centers that may not have been equipped to handle complications and emergencies following these procedures.
It was also discovered that not all surgery centers have staff members onsite 24 hours a day that have the training or equipment necessary to perform lifesaving efforts on a patient who may require them. Since many centers operate under standard 8 to 9-hour days, this can force post-surgery patients to be in situation where their only care providers are after-hour nurses and assistants. This has caused incidents where centers have needed to call 911 for patients who needed emergency care off-hours. In more than one case, by the time help arrived, it was too late for that patient.
Medicare requires surgery centers to be located within a certain distance to local hospitals and to send patients to that hospital when an emergency occurs. In rural areas, this distance can extend up to 15 or more miles away. Even when a hospital is close, however, if the center is required to call 911, a patient could be waiting for emergency care for up to 20-30 minutes before help arrives.
Evidence also shows that centers may have accepted patients who had high-risk health problems and should not have been treated at outpatient centers at all. When these patients underwent procedures and needed emergency care, help could not arrive quickly enough.
Due to instances like these, numerous lawsuits are currently pending against multiple surgical centers around the United States. This type of lawsuit is defined as a malpractice lawsuit, since these centers are being accused of letting patients come to harm due to negligence on their part. Whether it’s a failure to properly train staff members, keep doctors on-site who can perform lifesaving measures, keep necessary emergency equipment on-hand, or properly screen surgery patients for risk factors, these centers should have done more to keep their patients safe.
You Need a Trusted Attorney at Your Side
If you or a loved one have had a surgical procedure performed at an outpatient surgery center and have experienced an injury or have suffered due to events you feel were negligent, you may be comforted to know that you aren’t alone. Legal options may be available to you and your family.
Having reliable legal representatives on your case will help grant you peace of mind that skilled professionals are looking out for your best interests. It’s often confusing and complicated when a negligent medical professional causes you harm. At Thomas Law Offices, we’ll do everything we can to investigate what happened and show how their incompetence is the reason why you suffered.
You deserve compensation to help with your medical costs and get your life back on track. Our Louisville surgery center malpractice attorneys are one phone call away—you should get in touch with us immediately. Surgical malpractice cases can take time to reach a settlement and it will be better for us to get started as soon as possible. When you know that you’re taking care of your legal matters, it will alleviate the anxiety that you have to deal with this on your own. No one should feel like this. We will hold the responsible party accountable and get you the justice you deserve.