Retained Foreign Object Injury Lawyer in TX
Medical malpractice is a serious issue in Texas, but few cases are as serious as those involving a retained foreign object injury. These injuries occur when a doctor, surgeon, or other medical professional actually forgets to remove a foreign body before finishing a procedure.
The injuries from a retained foreign object can be life-threatening if not identified early. Further, several parties could be liable for your damages since there are many individuals involved in the care of a patient or on a surgical team. If one of them fails to notice your condition when they should have, they can also be held liable along with the doctor responsible for the foreign body.
Contact The Queenan Law Firm, P.C. at (817) 476-1797 for a free case review with our Texas retained foreign object injury attorneys.
What is a Retained Foreign Object in Texas
A retained foreign body can be any object or material left inside a patient after surgery that is not supposed to be there. Surgeons and other members of the surgical team are required to properly count and ensure all tools and materials are accounted for before concluding surgery. Numerous foreign objects could be left inside a patient’s body and cause injuries, for which our retained foreign object injury attorneys can help you recover compensation. Some of the most common foreign objects left inside a patient include surgical sponges, catheters, gauze pads, cotton swabs, caps, clamps, wires, needles, and towels. Depending on the type of surgery involved, many other items could potentially be left behind.
Foreign object injuries are more common than most people realize. According to a National Institutes of Health report, there are over 1,500 cases a year of foreign objects being left in patients in the United States. In most cases, these accidents occur because of poor communication between members of the surgical team. Thus, additional medical professionals besides the surgeon could be liable for your retained foreign object injuries.
How to Tell If You Have Retained a Foreign Object in Texas
Retained foreign object injuries are dangerous because they might not be noticeable at first or until life-threatening complications arise. In many cases, a victim will have distinct signs or symptoms indicating that something is wrong after surgery. For instance, if you notice an overall decline in your health days or weeks following surgery, it could be a sign of a retained foreign body. While you will experience pain after almost any surgery, it should be managed accordingly by the treating physician and investigate if the pain or health issues seem worse than expected.
A common sign of a retained foreign object is the onset of an infection. Infections can be deadly if the infection reaches a victim’s organs before they get treatment. Other common signs include fever, headaches, swollen lymph nodes, and difficulty eating, swallowing, or breathing. You could also experience a wide range of other symptoms, including vomiting or coughing up blood, development of abscesses, drainage coming from the surgical wound, and streaking around where the incision was made.
It is critical to get medical care immediately if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. If your original surgeon tries to reassure you about the pain but does not check for a foreign object, consult another physician. A retained foreign object injury could be detected with an ultrasound test or magnetic resonance imaging. Doctors have other tests they can also conduct to determine if you have a foreign body inside you.
Who Can Be Responsible for a Retained Foreign Object Injury in Texas
Anyone responsible for the care of a patient in a medical facility can be held liable for a retained foreign object injury. This includes surgeons, nurses, surgical technologists, and anesthesia professionals. If the person responsible for your care failed to perform their duties adequately, they could be held responsible for your injuries. A retained foreign object injury can occur at any point during surgery and can happen whether or not complications arise from the procedure itself.
The surgeon who performed the surgery is usually responsible for ensuring that all tools and materials are accounted for before the surgery ends. They can be held liable if they fail to do so and if someone gets injured as a result.
Surgeons are typically responsible for preventing retained foreign objects because they have the most control over what happens during an operation. They can be held liable if they fail to count sponges or instruments before and after surgery properly or if they leave equipment inside a patient after surgery. Surgeons must also ensure that their staff members are properly trained in counting instruments during surgery.
Nurses are often on hand during surgeries and other medical procedures to help doctors administer drugs or to make sure patients stay safe during procedures. They also assist with monitoring patients after surgery to make sure they do not develop any complications from their procedure or anesthesia. If nurses fail to do their jobs properly, they could be held liable for injuries caused by retained objects during surgery.
Nurses are not usually considered liable for retained foreign objects because they do not actually perform the surgery themselves. However, nurses are responsible for assisting surgeons during operations and can be liable if they fail to ensure that all surgical tools are accounted for before and after surgery. Nurses could also be held liable if they are responsible for but fail to train other staff members on properly counting sponges and instruments during an operation.
Surgical technologists are responsible for preparing equipment and materials needed during surgery and assisting surgeons with their work during a procedure. They must also ensure that all instruments used during surgery have been disinfected and sterilized prior to use. A surgical technologist who fails to meet one or more of these obligations could be liable for any injuries that result from that failure.
While they might not be directly liable for leaving a foreign object in a patient, their negligence could have contributed to a patient’s worsening condition. For instance, if they did not properly disinfect a foreign object that the surgeon left in the patient, it can increase the risk of a deadly infection. Thus, each medical professional can be liable for their share of the blame for causing your injuries.
Anesthesiologists are responsible for administering anesthesia safely and effectively during surgery so as not to harm patients undergoing surgery under their supervision. However, they are also responsible for managing complications that can arise during or after surgery. This means that an anesthesiologist could be held liable if they fail to notice a patient’s worsening condition from a retained foreign object or fail to respond appropriately when the complication is detected.
In some cases, the hospital where your injuries occurred can also be held liable for failing to provide adequate training and supervision of their employees or contractors. In Texas, hospitals are considered “fiduciaries” of their patients. This means they are responsible for providing the highest standard of care possible and cannot make negligent decisions that harm patients. If you were treated at a hospital that failed to clean your surgical site after surgery properly, you could sue it for damages if it contributed to your retained foreign object injuries.
Suing for Retained Foreign Object Injuries in Texas
Recovering compensation in a retained foreign object injury lawsuit in Texas can be challenging and requires proving that your injuries were caused by a healthcare provider’s negligence. To accomplish this, you will need to provide evidence establishing several elements to show medical malpractice occurred. First, you must show that the defendant had a duty to provide the same level of care that other medical professionals would have in similar circumstances. This is usually not difficult to establish since you are under the direct care of the surgeon and their team before, during, and after a procedure.
You must next show that the defendant failed to provide the necessary level of care, breaching their duty. Because leaving a foreign body in a patient is considered an act of gross negligence, it will always be considered a breach for not providing standard and adequate care.
Next, you must show that your current injuries were the result of the foreign object left inside after surgery. If your complications arise from the prior condition that required surgery in the first place or from a completely unrelated issue, those damages would have resulted even with the surgeon negligently leaving a foreign body behind. However, if you can show that your injuries would not have occurred but for the malpractice, you will likely recover compensation.
Lastly, you must provide evidence establishing that your foreign object injuries caused additional damages. Damages can be claimed for financial losses, like if you needed to stay in the hospital to take the foreign object out, as well as non-economic losses like the mental anguish caused by your injuries.
Damages You Could Recover for a Retained Foreign Object Injury in Texas
You can recover several damages for the additional expenses and losses you incurred as a result of your foreign object injuries in Texas. You can recover both economic damages, like medical bills, and non-economic damages, like pain and suffering. Further, punitive damages might be awarded since it takes an act of extreme negligence to leave a foreign object in a patient. However, non-economic and punitive damages are capped under Texas law.
The most common form of compensation in a retained foreign object lawsuit is reimbursement for the additional medical costs associated with treating your injuries. This includes any further emergency room visits and treatments by doctors, surgeons, or other healthcare professionals that treated you for your initial surgeon’s mistake. You can also claim compensation for physical therapy sessions, diagnostic tests like MRIs and CT scans, and prescriptions for required medications. If future medical treatment is needed in the future because of your foreign object injuries, these expenses can also be claimed.
If you had to miss work after being injured due to a retained object in your body, you can recover lost wages for that period of time. Lost wages are the amount of money you would have earned had you not been injured. If your injuries caused a decrease in your productivity or ability to earn as much as before, then lost wage damages can be claimed. You can also recover damages for loss of future earning capacity if your injuries cause long-term effects like permanent disability or impairment that will limit what jobs and how much money you could make over your lifetime.
Fortunately, economic damages are not capped by Texas law. This means that plaintiffs are entitled to recover all their financial losses caused by their foreign object injuries.
Pain and suffering are non-economic damages that can be recovered in a retained foreign object lawsuit for the physical and emotional distress caused by their injury. This includes not only immediate pain but also long-term effects of injuries such as loss of mobility or chronic pain. Other non-economic damages include loss of companionship and consortium with your spouse, loss of enjoyment of life, injuries to your reputation, and many others.
However, Texas caps the amount of pain and suffering damages a victim can be awarded per Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 74.301. If an individual doctor or healthcare provider is sued, $250,000 is the maximum amount of pain and suffering damages a plaintiff can recover. The limit increases to $500,000 if multiple physicians or facilities are made to pay damages. The judge or jury will determine what is fair to award in non-economic damages.
Punitive damages are meant to punish a defendant and deter others from committing similar acts. They are not awarded in most cases but could be called for in a retained foreign object case. Because of the gross negligence needed to cause retained foreign object injury, a medical professional’s negligence could be so egregious that the court will punish them. Punitive damages could also be appropriate if there were multiple instances where objects were left inside a patient’s body without their knowledge. For example, if one doctor left an object in someone and another failed to discover it when they should have, each could have punitive damages ordered against them.
Unfortunately, punitive damages are also capped in Texas. According to Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 41.008, punitive damages are capped at two times the total economic and non-economic damages mentioned above that were awarded up to $750,000, or $200,000, whichever is higher.
Our Texas Retained Foreign Object Injury Lawyers Can Help
For a free assessment of your case with our Texas retained foreign object injury lawyers, call The Queenan Law Firm, P.C. today at (817) 476-1797.