When you go in for surgery, you put a lot of trust and faith in the doctor and their medical team. In some cases, you may have no choice – the surgery could be necessary to save your life. In any case, the doctor has your safety and health in their hands, and any mistakes or errors they make could have catastrophic effects on your health.
Although rare, one of the most obvious mistakes a surgeon can make is to leave foreign objects behind inside your body while performing surgery. The potential pain, suffering, infections, and illnesses that having a foreign object in your body can cause could be life-threatening or, at the very least, cause a substantial interruption in your life. If you think you may have been the victim of a retained object injury after surgery, contact an attorney immediately to discuss filing a lawsuit and seeing compensation for your injuries. The Queenan Law Firm’s Arlington, TX attorneys for foreign objects left inside the body offer free legal consultations. Call our law offices today at (817) 476-1797 to set up your free case consultation.
Statute of Limitations on Retained Object Injuries in Texas
Texas has a very strict statute of limitations on personal injury and medical malpractice lawsuits. This statute of limitations restricts how long a victim has to file their case in court after an injury. In some states, flexible rules allow victims to bring their case later than the statute of limitations dictates, but this is difficult in Texas, and it is vital to work quickly to preserve your claim.
In Texas, victims of medical malpractice have 2 years to file their case in court. This 2-year clock starts running from the end of your course of treatment, which typically means the date you were discharged from the hospital after surgery. For minors under 12 who suffered an injury, the case can be filed any time up until their 14th birthday instead.
In many cases, you and your doctor may not realize that the mistake was made and that you have a foreign object left inside your body. For this reason, many of these injuries are difficult to discover, and doctors may affirmatively reassure the patients that pain and discomfort after surgery is normal. This could, intentionally or otherwise, lull the patient into a false sense of security and stop them from investigating further. In rare cases, the court will agree that the injury was inherently undiscoverable, even through due diligence, and they will allow the deadline to be extended.
Even if extensions are allowed, there is an absolute hard deadline to file your case within 10 years.
Suing for Retained Sponges and Surgical Tools During Surgery
To recover compensation for a doctor’s errors and mistakes, the mistakes must be outside the realm of adequate healthcare. Doctors are not perfect, and some mistakes and errors are considered within the boundaries of proper healthcare. Typically, the “standard of care” in your case is defined by how a reasonable physician with similar training and experience would have acted in the given circumstances. This could include leeway for minor shakes or tremors or simple oversights, but leaving a tool or instrument behind inside the body often falls well below the standard of care.
When you sue for these kinds of injuries, it is usually quite obvious to the jury that leaving a sponge, gauze, hemostats, forceps, or a scalpel inside the patient’s body is unacceptable. Still, your lawyer may use a medical expert – typically another surgeon – to testify to this fact and help convince the jury that your doctor’s care was indeed negligent.
In court, your attorney must prove your case “by a preponderance of the evidence.” This means proving that it is more likely than not that your claim is true and that your doctor injured you by leaving an instrument inside you. You can prove your case by presenting evidence such as X-rays and the object itself to show that it was definitely left inside you. The doctor who treated you and removed the object can also testify to the fact that it was indeed inside you. You can also testify to when the pain and discomfort started, which can help convince the jury that the pain started because of the initial surgery. Testimony from the nurses and other medical staff involved in your initial case can also help you prove your claim.
Suing for Retained Surgical Instruments in Texas
Victims of medical malpractice can undergo various injuries. Although rare, it is possible to face injuries from medical tools that were left inside the patient during surgery. Unlike medical implants and medical devices, which are designed to be left inside the body, many surgical tools are sharp, pointy, or made of materials that degrade inside the body. These tools should not be left inside the body, and you may be entitled to sue if they were left there.
The case is generally filed against your physician for surgical mistakes and medical errors. Your doctor is typically responsible for the rest of their medical team’s actions and mistakes, though some exceptions to this rule exist. When the doctor is an employee of the hospital, you may also be entitled to sue the hospital for its employee’s fault.
To prove your case in court, you must demonstrate how the negligence occurred. When you undergo surgery, you have no ability to control yourself or the items in the room, and the only way that something can be left inside during surgery is if the doctor or their medical team makes that mistake. You can use another physician to testify as a medical expert and describe to the jury how leaving the tool inside fell below the standard of care, and your attorney can use this and other evidence in your case to argue that you deserve compensation for the negligent injuries you faced.
The injuries from this kind of malpractice case can be severe, and you can claim the full value of any compensation related to your case when you file a medical malpractice lawsuit. First, you can sue for the cost of additional healthcare related to the injury. This can include medical imaging to discover the injury as well as damages for additional surgery and medical care to remove the tool. Lost wages may result if you need to take time off work to have the tool removed or if the injuries from the tool make working difficult, and you can claim compensation for these lost wages as well. You can also claim compensation for the pain and suffering and other intangible effects of the injury.
Damages for Injuries from Surgical Mistakes and Errors
If you were injured because of a retained foreign body after surgery, you may face additional medical care to remove the object, pain and suffering from having the object there, additional illness and infection from the foreign object, and lost wages from missed work the injuries caused. In most medical malpractice cases, you can claim damages for all of these areas of harm.
The damages that you claim compensation for should account or the full value of the bills you faced and any other financial harms you suffered. The damages for pain and suffering are typically “capped” in Texas, limiting how much you can claim. Still, these cases often involve severe injuries, and you may be entitled to claim maximum pain and suffering damages.
Schedule a Free Legal Consultation with Our Arlington, Texas Lawyers for Objects Left Inside After an Operation
If you or a loved one had surgery and discovered that the surgeon left a sponge, surgical instrument, or another foreign object inside the incision, talk to an attorney immediately. You may have a limited time to file your case, and you should speak with a lawyer as soon as possible to ensure that your claim is filed and preserved for trial. The Queenan Law Firm’s Arlington lawyers for foreign objects left inside after surgery may be able to take your case and fight to get you and your family the financial compensation you deserve for the negligent healthcare you suffered. To schedule your free legal consultation, call us today at (817) 476-1797.