Furr & Henshaw
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Even routine surgeries can carry risks, potential for error

Surgeries in South Carolina, while remaining safe in many cases, carry a significant risk, even for procedures that are commonplace. A patient might have a problem with the anesthesia, or a tiny nick from the surgeon's scalpel could endanger the patient's life. Every patient has a unique combination of factors that can negatively influence a surgery. Doctor errors, negligence and mistakes can also cause permanent disability or death.

For people with preexisting issues with their cardiopulmonary or respiratory systems, people who are obese, or for people who have a problem with bruising or excessive bleeding, the hospital and surgeon must investigate and compensate for possible complications. Because doctors are trusted figures of authority, a patient may not understand that a surgery is not always necessary and can have long-term impacts on the patient's quality of life. Although hospitals have thorough consent forms detailing the risks of surgery, patients may still have a lack of informed consent about the relative risks between surgery and an alternative non-surgical course of action.

For example, tonsillectomies, which are extremely common in the United States and Europe, carry a small but significant risk of complications such as bleeding. In Oakland, California, a teenage girl experienced post-operative bleeding following a tonsillectomy, which led to a cardiac arrest and brain death. Between one and three percent of surgeries of this kind have some kind of complication, such as bleeding or infection.

In certain cases, a medical error, a failure to treat infections or an inadequate standard of care can lead to complications or death. In situations like these, medical malpractice lawsuits can be brought against a hospital or medical practitioner in seeking compensation for damages. Awards from such claims could be used to pay for further medical treatment or, in the case of death, funeral expenses.

Source: CNN, "When routine surgeries go wrong", Jacque Wilson, December 19, 2013

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1900 Oak Street
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