What is Radiology Malpractice?


A radiologist is a medical specialist who has been trained to read and interpret the results of medical images, such as MRIs, CTs, and x-rays. A radiologist works in conjunction with other physicians who request imaging tests. For instance, if a primary care physician orders a chest x-ray, the radiologist will read and interpret the results of the x-ray, and then return those interpretations and results to the primary physician.


There are two types of radiology malpractice: misreading an image and failure to communicate with the consulting physician. 75% of lawsuits against radiologists come from one of these two situations.

Misreading an Image

The most common form of radiology malpractice is due to diagnostic errors – the failure to correctly read or interpret the medical image.

At times, when examining test results, a radiologist can “miss” a vital finding or may focus on one type of medical condition over another.

For instance, a primary physician may request a chest x-ray of a patient to rule out pneumonia. When the radiologist looks for pneumonia, the image is clear of that illness. However, during examination of the x-ray, the radiologist may overlook a mass. Later, the patient is determined to have lung cancer as a result of that mass. The radiologist, therefore, can be found negligent in evaluating the initial x-ray.

Frequently missed diagnoses include breast and lung cancer, vascular disease, and aneurysms.

Communication Failure

The second most common type of radiology malpractice occurs when a radiologist and a referring physician miscommunicate. This can occur when a radiologist does not provide test results to the physician or fails to mention concerns about the patient’s imaging. It can also occur when the physician fails to read the radiologist’s full report and overlooks details about the evaluation of the scan.

Radiologists and physicians are required by medical malpractice law to communicate effectively not only with each other, but also with their patients.


Radiology malpractice cases can be quite difficult, with complex medical and legal details.  If you believe that the health of you or a loved one was jeopardized as a result of radiology malpractice, contact an attorney as soon as possible.

In the instance of misreading an image, an attorney will make the case, with the help of medical expert witnesses, that any other competent radiologist would have noticed an abnormality in the medical image.

If miscommunication between physicians is the issue, at least one of the two doctors – the radiologist or the referring physician – will be liable for the damage. Courts can also decide to penalize both physicians in a given case.

If you believe that you have a radiology malpractice case resulting in injury or death, contact us at 740.374.5346 or use our convenient contact form.


What is an ERISA Dispute?

After the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) was enacted, federal law began regulating retirement plans and insurance for private employers in the United States.

The Act established legal guidelines for all private pension plans, investment practices, and the administration of these programs. Minimum standards regarding life insurance, disability, welfare, and health plans were established to protect individuals under these plans.

What is an ERISA Litigation?

ERISA was originally signed into law by President Gerald Ford. The Act initially came after issues related to pension plans, especially after the Studebaker Motor Company filed for bankruptcy and left company workers without funds and remedies for their lost pension plans.

For the last 35 years, ERISA has gone through more than forty amendments, with most of the changes occurring in the pension portion of the Act.

Modifications in 1985 and 1996 were the most notable and included the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

The Department of Labor (DOL) oversees the Act; however, the law only applies to private employers or those not affiliated with the government. If a worker has a denied appeal and he or she has followed all guidelines established by ERISA, the next step could be to file a lawsuit against the employer.

ERISA allows a judge to review the case for possible abuse of discretion. The judge can examine and overturn the decision, but the judge’s authority is limited.

The Complexities of the ERISA Rules

ERISA is a very complex Act, and it is continuously changing to meet the demands of today’s worker. Regulations vary, and therefore, this area of the law is often too complicated for a layperson.

ERISA has a manual for employees and enforcement-related guidelines, but it is not designed to help you interpret the Act. For an employer to be guilty of civil violations of ERISA, the following elements must be present:

  • Failure to Execute an Employee-Favored Plan – The company fails to operate the benefit plan with prudence and in the interest of the employees.
  • Asset Usage and Benefits – Under ERISA, employers have the right to use benefits for certain parties, but cannot solely do so to help the plan sponsor, parties related to the individuals, or the program’s administrator.
  • Valuing Assets – Employers cannot improperly value assets or ignore current fair market values. Also, assets cannot be held in a trust.
  • Failure to Monitor – Employers must monitor and carefully select all service providers related to their plan. Inability to do so is a violation of ERISA.
  • Adverse Actions Against Employees – A company cannot take any actions against an employee for exercising their rights under the plan, including terminating, fines, or discriminating against workers.

When is an ERISA Claim Necessary?

There are two types of claims filed under ERISA: a benefit claim and a breach of fiduciary duty claim.

  • Benefit claims include the following:
  • Health insurance policies
  • Disability insurance and payment coverage
  • Life insurance
  • COBRA policies
  • Vacation benefits

Fiduciary breach claims focus on the actions of those running the plan. If the person does not follow instructions, misrepresents facts to participants or fails to make prudent investments, they could be in violation of their fiduciary duty.

ERISA Limits Damages

Even if you have an ERISA claim, know that the Act limits your damages. You can request the benefits you have lost and interest in past due benefits, but you will not receive pain and suffering or other non-economic damages. Some judges will allow attorney’s fees and the costs of starting and litigating your lawsuit. However, you will not be compensated for administrative remedies and the time spent on those resources.

If you have been denied valid benefits from your employer, or you feel that your employer has breached their duty to you as an employee, you can speak with an attorney that practices ERISA claims. Attorney Ethan Vessels can assist you with your ERISA case.

Schedule a no-obligation consultation at 740-374-5346 or .

Most Common Types of Medical Malpractice Claims

For the most part, physicians work hard to care for their patients, and they always have their patients’ best interests at heart. However, sometimes doctors make mistakes. When those mistakes lead to serious consequences, injury, or death, a patient may choose to file a lawsuit against the physician for the harm he or she suffered. In the United States, there are a variety of reasons why a patient may file a malpractice claim, but some types of lawsuits are more common than others.

What is Medical Malpractice?

Not all bad outcomes are the result of malpractice. There are instances where treatments lead to unexpected outcomes or a patient suffers unintended and unforeseeable complications. There are times treatments are ineffective despite a physician’s best efforts. However, when an adverse medical outcome has a significant impact on a patient’s quality of life, the issue of malpractice comes up.

Malpractice in Ohio must meet three specific criteria to be eligible for compensation:

A Deviation from the Standard of Care – A medical standard of care refers to the industry standard expected of medical professionals within the same field of expertise. Of course, the expected standard differs from one type of health professional to another.

Causation of Injury or Death –  The deviation from the standard of care is not sufficient by itself. That deviation must be the cause of the ultimate damage suffered.

Damages – Damages must occur for there to be an applicable case. Damages are the monetary and physical losses a patient endures, such as medical costs, pain, and suffering. Without damages, there is no reason to file a malpractice claim.

Exploring the Common Causes of Malpractice

Knowing that physicians almost never intentionally cause harm, you might wonder what the cause of malpractice is if there is no bad intention. Medical malpractice on the part of a doctor or other healthcare professional must involve negligence, such as using the wrong dosage of a medication or failure to diagnose the proper disease and treat it accordingly. Most malpractice claims arise out of issues with communication. Whether it was the physician’s inability to communicate with their patient effectively, or the doctor was too busy to gather the necessary information, these communication breakdowns can lead to devastating accidents.

Inpatient Malpractice Errors

A vast majority of malpractice claims arise in the inpatient setting. These malpractice types include:

Surgical Errors – Whether it is operating on the wrong site to leaving surgical instruments in the body, surgical errors account for one-third of all malpractice claims filed in the United States by patients. Most surgical errors are preventable errors, known as never-events.

Anesthesia – Another common injury is from anesthesia, whether the patient suffers a preventable reaction or is not monitored properly when given the medication. These injuries might lead to permanent brain damage or death.

Outpatient Medical Malpractice Errors

Outpatient procedures do not happen in the hospital. Instead, they occur in a physician’s office, clinic, or an outpatient surgical center. The most common outpatient injuries include:

Failure to Diagnose – In this case, the doctor fails to diagnose and treat the patient appropriately. As a result, the patient could suffer from a chronic illness and pain, or be too far advanced in his or her disease to receive treatment when it is finally diagnosed.

Misdiagnosis – In this case, the patient is diagnosed but with the wrong condition, such as being diagnosed with heartburn when the patient was actually suffering from a heart attack.

Medication Errors – Sometimes doctors prescribe the wrong medicine or the incorrect dosage.

Childbirth Injuries

Childbirth is demanding on the human body, and many physicians are too busy to prevent errors in childbirth. Approximately 20% of medical malpractice claims are filed against OB/GYNs.

Medication Errors

Medication errors might occur at the doctor’s office or a pharmacy. Whether it is the incorrect dosage amounts or the wrong medication given to the patient, these errors cause more than 1.5 million injuries each year in the United States.

Contact Ethan Vessels

When you have a medical malpractice claim, you need an attorney who will advocate for you. Ethan Vessels, of Fields, Dehmlow, & Vessels is a medical malpractice attorney who can help. Contact him today to discuss your claim by calling 740-374-5346 or by filling out our online contact form.

5 Common Myths Regarding Car Accidents and Whiplash

Whiplash is a very common injury associated with rear-end collisions and other types of motor vehicle accidents. Unfortunately, the sheer force that causes whiplash can lead to other serious conditions, including debilitating chronic pain. The validity of a whiplash claim often comes under question, but it is a real condition that many accident victims suffer. For any victim, it is important to understand the myths about whiplash and be educated on the facts.

What is Whiplash?

Whiplash typically occurs in a rear-end car accident. When the vehicle pushes violently forward, the individual in the car will be pushed forward, creating a whipping motion. When the neck, shoulders, and torso are forced to move out of the ordinary range of motion, it leads to damage to the ligaments, muscles, and tendons.

What are the Common Whiplash Myths?

Symptoms of whiplash go away in just a few days. It is a common misconception that whiplash is a temporary condition, but it can take up to a month to recover from this injury. In some cases, victims will have chronic pain that lasts for up to a year. Whiplash can include difficulty in moving the affected area; muscle spasms and pain; and nausea, headaches, and other complications.

Attorneys make it easy for people to seek compensation. Many believe that the no-win-no-fee model used by personal injury lawyers will draw in people who will file frivolous claims. That is rarely the case, however. Instead, these attorneys provide a way for injured people to receive compensation by a qualified attorney who can represent them fairly.

Whiplash is impossible to diagnose, and a doctor’s testimony is not required for a personal injury claim. Traditional diagnostic imaging tools often do not show proof of injury, which causes some to question the condition. However, a medical professional can accurately diagnose whiplash by examining the patient’s symptoms and performing an assessment.

Injured people are better off dealing with insurance companies than attorneys. After an accident, a victim will be approached by an insurer. However, settling a claim without a personal injury attorney is never ideal. An attorney ensures that current and future medical expenses are addressed and that the compensation is fair for the victim’s injuries, pain, and suffering.

Whiplash is a controversial injury and juries do not believe victims. Whiplash claims cost billions each year, but rarely are those claims fictitious. In fact, whiplash claims are notorious for leading to chronic pain and disability. While a claimant may be painted as an insurance fraud, the reality is that whiplash is a real, very serious injury that has a life-long impact on the victim. Therefore, they have a right to collect compensation for that suffering.

Contact Ethan Vessels Today

As you can see, whiplash injuries can be controversial, which is one of the reasons that you need the services of a personal injury attorney. Ethan Vessels is a trial lawyer with experience in car accident claims. Contact us today at Fields, Dehmlow & Vessels for experienced legal representation. Call 740-374-5346 or fill out our contact form and we will get back with you very soon.

Top Cellphone Apps That Combat Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is a well-known danger on the roads, but hundreds of drivers still continue to drive while using their mobile phone or engaging in other forms of distracted driving.

In response to the threat of these devices, several app developers have worked on creating new applications that combat distracted driving.

Today, there are numerous apps to choose from that will stop distracted driving for teens and adults.


The Purpose of Distracted Driving Apps

Smartphones are powerful. They keep individuals connected, allow business professionals to conduct business on the go, and allow children to maintain contact with their parents. However, text messaging remains a common issue. It takes just one text message to take a driver’s eyes and attention off the road for five seconds. These apps are designed to stop distracted driving by shutting down notifications, sending replies to text message senders that their recipient is occupied, and more.

Tips for Choosing the Right App

  1. Make sure the app is compatible with the phone’s operating software, such as iOS or Android.
  2. Look for an app that blocks messages and phone calls.
  3. Verify that the app offers notifications to parents so that they can monitor teen drivers.
  4. Check if the app tracks miles driven safely and if there are rewards for distraction-free driving.

What are the Best Distracted Driving Apps Available Today?

LifeSaver App – LifeSaver combines GPS monitoring with cell technology to dramatically reduce instances of distracted driving. They have rewards for safe driving, and when engaged, the app blocks a person from using their phone while driving. Also, it will notify parents that their teen driver has reached their destination and parents can use the “Driver Portal” to monitor teen driving habits. Parents are in control of the rewards offered to their teens. LifeSaver also works for commercial fleet managers that want to limit employee distractions.

AT&T DriveMode – AT&T released their DriveMode app for iOS and Android systems. It blocks texting and receiving phone calls while operating a vehicle. It can be set so that it automatically starts blocking when the vehicle is moving faster than 15 miles per hour. Also, parents can receive notifications if their teen tries to change a setting or deactivate the app. This app is very user-friendly.

TrueMotion – TrueMotion is free for iOS and Android system phones. It has unique features that other distracted driving apps do not, including a trip score that rates a person’s driving and moments that they might have been distracted.

Drive Beehive – This app connects drivers with sponsors who can set rewards for the specific number of miles safely driven.

Most safe driving apps are free or come with a nominal fee. Considering what they could do for a person — including saving a person’s life — paying a few dollars is always worth it to have an app that limits or stops distracted driving.

Car Accident Attorney, Ethan Vessels

If you or a loved one are hurt from a distracted driving car accident, contact Ethan Vessels at Fields, Dehmlow & Vessels for possible legal representation. Ethan has years of experience as a trial lawyer, and he knows how to win. Contact us today at Fields, Dehmlow & Vessels for experienced legal representation. Call 740-374-5346 or fill out our contact form and we will get back with you very soon.

Why should you have uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage?

It is estimated that 1 out of 7 drivers in the U.S. are uninsured or underinsured. If you are involved in an accident where the other driver is at-fault, typically their liability coverage would be responsible for any medical bills and auto repair costs. However, if the driver does not carry any insurance, or not enough, you may be left paying out of pocket.

In order to protect yourself, it is recommended that you purchase uninsured and/or underinsured motorist coverage from your insurance company. Regular car insurance coverage protects other drivers from damages you cause, and uninsured/underinsured coverage protects you from damages caused by other drivers.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage

It is important to note that the uninsured/underinsured policies provide liability coverage for the other driver. Therefore, you still have to prove that the other driver is at fault, that your injuries were caused by the accident, and that the treatment for those injuries was reasonable.

Purchasing this coverage is a backup plan, as is all insurance purchases. No one plans on getting into an accident, but they happen, and sometimes they happen due to the fault of either an uninsured or underinsured driver.

If you are involved in this type of accident, having the extra insurance allows the insurance company to cover all of your costs up to the policy’s limit. If the at-fault driver only has the bare minimum coverage required, then he or she likely will not be able to cover all the expenses, and the underinsured coverage will fill in the gaps.

The uninsured/underinsured coverage usually offers two types of protection.

Bodily Injuries Coverage (UMBI). The uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage can cover not only car damages but bodily injuries as well if you choose to add this coverage. The bodily injury insurance would cover medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and funeral costs for you and any passengers in your vehicle.

Property Damage Coverage (UMPD). This type of coverage is not offered in all states, but if available, it may be worth consideration. This type of protection covers damages made to personal properties such as a house, fence, or even cell phones and other electronics.

State Requirements

Insurance requirements vary by state. Approximately half of all states require some type of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Some states even require that the coverage is offered, and if you want to decline, you must put it in writing.

Call an attorney who has experience with uninsured/underinsured coverage.

If you have been in an accident where the at-fault driver does not carry enough or any insurance, you should call an attorney with experience. Attorney Ethan Vessels represents clients from Ohio and West Virginia. He is the author of the book “I have been injured. What are my legal rights?” If you would like to request a free copy of the book or schedule a consultation, please call 740-374-5346 or fill out our online contact form.

Should You Feel Guilty for Wanting Compensation for Your Injuries?

Guilt is often felt by potential claimants. After a serious accident or injury, some people choose to suffer in silence instead of pursuing a claim, no matter how obvious the fault may be. The insurance industry has succeeded in labeling claimants as greedy plaintiffs, but seeking fair compensation for an injury is not greedy. If you sustained an injury in a car accident and accrued numerous medical bills and missed work, it is entirely appropriate to request compensation.

Claimant Stereotypes

The term “sue happy” has been used to describe the culture in America, claiming no matter the situation, people turn to lawsuits to fix any problem. Over the last several years, the media has shared some outrageous injury claims with the public. These stories are often sensationalized, and viewers do not get all the facts.

The most famous case was when a Mrs. Liebeck sued McDonald’s after she spilled hot coffee in her lap. The public immediately assumed the worst (spurred by the media) and concluded that the lady was looking for a lawsuit. They labeled her before knowing the details of the story. The coffee Mrs. Liebeck spilled was served at 185 degrees, and McDonald’s knew anything above 140 degrees was a burn hazard. Furthermore, there were roughly 700 claims filed by other people who had been burned by McDonald’s coffee. Mrs. Liebeck suffered third-degree burns on six percent of her body. She underwent skin grafting and spent a week in the hospital. In the end, she received $200,000 in compensatory damages and $480,000 in punitive damages. The jury clearly ruled that Mrs. Liebeck had truly suffered, but the story was fabricated to be a sensationalized story.

People may feel ashamed to be associated with this “sue happy” stereotype and want to keep their pride, but the only people who benefit from a claim not being pursued are the insurance companies.

Do I Deserve Compensation?

Potential claimants may also struggle with feeling like they are getting something for nothing. Some people still strongly identify with the philosophy of “a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work.” This strong work ethic is admirable, but should not overrule compensation for which you are entitled. If you have been injured in an accident, remember the time you missed work and the medical bills you accumulated. You are not getting a free ride, but you are being compensated for what you lost. Being hurt is an extreme imposition on your life. It affects your productivity both at work and home, and it diminishes your quality of life. Why should you suffer because of another person’s negligence?

Call Fields, Dehmlow & Vessels in Marietta, Ohio

Do not wait too long before talking with an attorney, because the statute of limitations allows a certain timeline for which an injury claim can be filed. You should act fast and call a personal injury lawyer to see if you have a case and what options are available to you.

Attorney Ethan Vessels is an experienced local personal injury attorney in Marietta, Ohio. He is licensed in Ohio and West Virginia and is ready to discuss your case. Please call 740-374-5346 or fill out our online contact form and we will get in touch with you.

Elder Fraud & Financial Abuse

Financial abuse of the elderly is increasing. Only one in 44 cases of financial abuse are reported. Family members or close friends account for 90% of abusers, which makes the victims reluctant to pursue legal action. Read further to understand ways in which elderly people are exploited and the common scams that are used by professional con artists.

Exploitation by Family Members

Many elderly people have a “Power of Attorney,” which gives financial authority to the person of their choosing. A family member could steal this money for his or her own use or could take advantage of the finances by being the joint owner of a bank account with an elder relative. ATM cards and checks may be used to withdraw money, and cash and valuable items such as jewelry can be stolen.

Exploitation by Home Health Providers

In-home care professionals may charge for services never performed. They may keep change from store purchases and pay their own personal bills with the elder patient’s funds. The worker could even falsify time records and spend work hours to run personal errands.

Scams by Professionals

Seniors are often targeted by professional con artists because of their financial security, trusting nature, home accessibility, and potential memory problems. Older people control about 70% of the nation’s wealth. Professionals know who to target and have become very skilled with their pitch.

Home repair scams. Traveling con men may approach the home, stating they are in the area for a short time and can repair something inexpensively. Also, beware of people saying they are from a utility company. One person may ask for help outside while another teammate goes inside and steals the elderly person’s possessions.

Lottery scams. These will claim that the elderly person has already won, and now, they just need to share their financial information to cover the cost of the associated taxes.

Charity scams. Individuals will ask for donations for a good cause and then pocket the money for themselves.

Investment scams. Unrealistic returns being promised is a warning sign. Anyone who claims to be a financial planner or dealer should be properly licensed.

Signs of Financial Abuse

  • Large bank withdrawals or unusual activity
  • Missing possessions
  • Unpaid bills
  • Unusual new friends
  • New names on bank accounts
  • Sudden changes in a will and the beneficiaries
  • Isolation
  • Debt collector calls and/or letters
  • Someone refusing to get the medical care needed for the elderly victim

What to do if you suspect Elder Financial Abuse

If you or a loved one has been the victim of elder financial abuse, there are several ways to report the situation. You could call the local law enforcement and file a report, and/or you could call the local Adult Protective Services.

You should seek legal counsel if you want the wrong-doer to be reprimanded and/or recover what assets were compromised. Attorney Ethan Vessels is an experienced attorney in Marietta, Ohio, and he is ready to discuss your case. Please call 740-374-5346 or fill out our online contact form.

Driving Safely Near Semi-trucks

Semi-trucks are a common fixture on interstates and roadways. They can be tricky to maneuver around and if you get into a crash with one, it is most likely to result in serious injury. A common rule of thumb is to give truckers plenty of room.

Common Hazards with Semi-trucks

Tire Blowouts. Most people who drive on the interstate are likely to have seen chunks of rubber scattered along the side of the road. These are the result of a tire blowout from a semi-truck. A loaded truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds or more, and that amount of weight adds extreme stress to the tires. Truck drivers usually swerve when blowouts occur, and chunks of the tire will fly in all directions.

Heavy Winds. Although semi-trucks are massive, they are still affected by strong winds. Their large size actually makes them more difficult to control, especially if they are not loaded. An unloaded truck can mimic a sailboat in heavy winds with random drifting and swerving in and out of lanes.

Blind spots. Every vehicle has blind spots, but semi-trucks are plagued by them. The passenger side has more blind spots than the driver side, so when passing be sure to do so on their left side, and pass quickly. The driver can only see another vehicle in their side view mirrors at certain times; the closer you get to the front of the truck, the less likely that they will see you.

Safety Tips

Statistics show that in more than 72% of semi-truck accidents, the fault lies with the other vehicle. Below are some tips to help navigate and share the roadways with our larger counterparts.

Give room for wide turns. Trucks need extra turning when space. They may even need to get into the oncoming traffic lane to successfully maneuver a turn. You should never try to sneak by them. When preparing to stop at a traffic light or stop sign, stop where the white guidelines are. They are marked at a certain spot so that other vehicles such as large semis have enough turning space.

Keep a safe following distance. Following too closely behind a semi puts you in a blind spot behind the truck. If a truck should quickly hit the brakes and you do not respond fast enough, you could get jammed underneath the truck. You also should never stop closely behind a truck on any type of hill because once the truck driver lets off the brake, it will likely roll back.

Pass safely and quickly. Make sure you can see the driver and then signal that you are changing lanes. Remember to pass on the left side of the truck because it has less blind spots. Accelerate and quickly pass the truck. Try to avoid passing trucks on a downgrade as they will pick up speed and you could get stuck driving in a blind spot.

Do not merge in front of them too closely. Merging quickly in front of a truck is dangerous. You need to be sure that there is plenty of space ahead of them before doing so. You may get rear-ended if you cut too close because a fully loaded semi takes the length of approximately three football fields to completely stop when traveling at high speeds.

Have You Been in a Semi-truck Accident?

No matter how defensively you drive, accidents can still happen. If you have been injured in a semi accident, you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. The insurance coverage on semi-trucks can get very complicated because they often have more than one carrier, and this can make the claims process tricky.

Ethan Vessels is an established personal injury attorney in Marietta, Ohio serving Ohio and West Virginia. He can help you through the claims process and negotiate reasonable compensation for your injuries. Please call 740-374-5346 or fill out our online contact form to discuss your claim.

Have You Suffered from a Surgical Error?

Undergoing any surgery, minor or life-changing, is a serious matter. Whether it is having tonsils removed, a heart transplant, or any other type of surgery, there are always risks involved. If surgery does result in an error, that does not necessarily mean medical malpractice was committed. Read further to understand when a surgical error equals medical malpractice and who should be held liable for the mistake.

Examples of Surgical Errors

A surgical error is a preventable mistake made during surgery. There are many types of surgical errors that can occur. These are some common errors:

  • Nerve damage
  • Incorrect anesthesia dosage
  • Leaving surgical equipment inside a patient
  • Operating on the wrong body part

Common factors that lead to errors

Insufficient Planning. The medical staff must always be aware of a patient’s medical history and of pre-existing conditions which could create complications. They should know all medications being taken and any possible side effects. Medical staff should ensure all equipment is cleaned properly and is available when needed by the surgeon.

Incompetence. Doctors go through years of training and studying, but not all doctors have the competence to perform surgeries. A surgeon may be inexperienced with a certain procedure, and therefore, a more experienced surgeon should either perform or supervise the surgery. Surgeons may also unwisely decide to skip a certain step during the surgery to save time, but any shortcuts can lead to an error.

Poor Communication. Miscommunication among the surgical staff can lead to serious consequences. The wrong body part could get marked for surgery, the patient’s medication and dosage could get mixed up, and surgical equipment could be missing or not be sanitized properly.

Neglect. This could include failure to properly sterilize surgical instruments or using defective equipment. Sometimes this is directly related to other areas such as poor communication or fatigue.

Fatigue, Drugs & Alcohol. Surgeons and the support staff work long, draining shifts. It is understandable that fatigue will set in occasionally, yet they have a responsibility to inform their superiors when they need rest or that another surgeon/staff member needs to be called in to perform or assist in the procedure so any mistakes can be avoided. Surgeons and their staff frequently deal with extremely stressful and emotional situations. Some staff members or surgeons may turn to drugs and/or alcohol to cope. They may also turn to certain drugs in an effort to maintain energy and stay awake. No matter the reasoning, it is unacceptable for anyone to perform or assist in a surgery under the influence.When does a Surgical Error turn into Medical Malpractice?

When does a Surgical Error turn into Medical Malpractice?

If a surgical error occurs, that does not automatically mean someone is liable for medical malpractice. All surgeries involve risks and therefore, patients are typically required to sign an “informed consent” form stating that they understand these risks.

In order to have a viable medical malpractice claim, the following elements must exist:

The mistake has to fall below the medical standard of care. Doctors have a legal obligation to perform the standard of care needed and avoid foreseeable injury. It must be proven that the doctor failed to meet these standards of care. For example, if a surgeon left a surgical sponge in a body cavity after performing surgery, this would show a failure in maintaining a standard of care.

The doctor’s negligence must be the cause of the patient’s injury. This injury must also have caused damages, whether economic, non-economic, or both. As examples, lost wages, future earnings, and medical bills are economic damages, while pain, suffering, and emotional distress are non-economic damages.

Talk with an Experienced Attorney

If you or a loved one has suffered due to a surgical error, you should talk with an experienced malpractice attorney. Speaking with an attorney in a timely manner will help you avoid any difficulties with a statute of limitations. Call (740) 374-5346 or fill out a contact form, and we will get in touch with you.