Who Is Liable For A Surgical Mistake?

The last thing individuals need to worry about when they go in for a surgical procedure is that a mistake will be made. Unfortunately, there are times when doctors, surgeons, or any other member of the medical staff make an error that harms a patient. Here, we want to discuss who could be held liable after a surgical error occurs in California.

Examining the Surgical Team

When examining who could be responsible for a surgical error, it is important to look directly at the individuals involved in the surgery. When most people think of a surgery, they think of a surgeon. However, a surgeon is only one part of the overall team responsible for a successful surgery. Typically, there will be lab work done, so radiologists have a role when it comes to surgery prep. Additionally, even doctors who recommend the surgery play a role in the procedure, though maybe not directly.

The team directly responsible for the surgical procedure plays the most important role because they are the ones with the patient in front of them. The surgical team usually consists of various medical professionals, including the surgeon, nurses, anesthesiologists, and others. In general, surgeons (who are doctors) will be responsible for most cases of surgical mistakes. It is a doctor’s responsibility to ensure that they are operating properly and that their team is also functioning properly.

When a doctor fails their duty of care to the patient and makes a surgical error, they could be held liable for their mistake. Determining liability revolves around examining whether or not the doctor upheld the standard of care expected for the situation. This means looking at whether another similarly trained surgeon in similar circumstances would have performed the same procedure or made the same mistake. 

The Hospital or Surgical Center

In some situations, hospitals or surgical centers could also be held responsible for a surgical mistake. However, usually, these facilities will do what they can to separate themselves from the negligent actions of a doctor. If the at-fault surgeon is a direct employee of the hospital surgical center, then the center may be held responsible through vicarious liability. However, it is not uncommon for hospitals and surgical centers to contract doctor services, which means that they would not be held responsible for the actions of the contractor.

A hospital or surgical center could still face some liability if they knew about a doctor’s history of negligence or errors. If a hospital receives reports or has knowledge of a pattern of mistakes and they fail to take action, then they could be held responsible for medical malpractice if a patient sustains harm.

Reach out to our medical malpractice lawyers

Working With a Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you or somebody you care about has sustained an injury caused by the negligent actions of a surgeon, you need to reach out to an attorney immediately. A skilled medical malpractice lawyer in Santa Ana will use their resources to examine every aspect of your claim. They will work with trusted medical experts who can examine the case and help determine the best steps moving forward. The ultimate goal is for medical malpractice victims to recover total compensation for their losses.