Malpractice Arising from Bad Surgical Techniques
When an operation is unsuccessful, the injured patient and his or her family may seek to blame the physician. It certainly is tempting to look to the surgeon’s technique when the patient’s injury is the result of inadvertent cutting, tearing or crushing of tissue, or hemorrhaging from poorly tied blood vessels. Frequently, it is the bad technique of the surgeon that is responsible for the mishap, but that is not always the case. Sometimes an injury results not from the negligence of the surgeon but from natural anatomical variations or from distortions in anatomical appearances resulting from disease or prior surgeries. It is when the surgeon is not aware of possible anatomic variations or he or she failed to take adequate precautions after the discovery of anatomic distortions that he or she may be held liable for injuries to the patient.
Technique is quite personal to each surgeon, and a surgeon may perform a certain procedure in a way that varies from the standard manner for most of his or her career without a mishap. However, if on one occasion a patient were injured by the technique, the patient would have to rely on the expert testimony of a medical professional to establish that the use of the standard procedure would have prevented the injury.
Distinguishing between a mechanical mistake and an error in judgment is often difficult in surgical medical malpractice cases. If a suture is misplaced but the tissue through which it goes is strong and healthy, the patient will usually recover without mishap. However, if the doctor has failed to notice the poor condition of the surrounding tissue while performing the procedure, he or she has made a substantial error in judgment rather than a minor mechanical slip.