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Organ Damage Caused by Surgical Mistakes


Organ damage is a type of injury that can stem from surgical mistakes and mistakes in the operating room happen more often than some might think. Researchers at John Hopkins Medicine estimated in a study released in December 2012 that about 4,044 surgical ‘never events’ happen each year in the United States.

Examples of ‘never events’ included:

  • leaving an object in the patient’s body;
  • performing the wrong procedure; and
  • operating on the wrong patient.

Depending on the circumstances, these and other errors may harm internal organs, which may necessitate further treatment and expense.

How Surgical Mistakes May Lead to Organ Damage

Invasive procedures come with risks; for instance, developing an infection or complications from anesthesia. But in some cases damage to an organ is the result of a surgeon’s negligent actions.

For example, a surgeon may accidentally nick, perforate or cut an organ or artery during the course of the procedure. This can lead to internal bleeding or other complications and could necessitate additional surgery to correct the mistake.

If the wrong patient is operated on, it may lead to damage to, or removal of, otherwise healthy organs. This may also be the case if the wrong procedure is performed. For example, removing a portion of an otherwise healthy liver because of an administrative mix-up that resulted in operation on the wrong patient is generally considered negligent.

Leaving an object in the patient’s body may lead to infection that can affect internal organs. If the damage is severe, it may prevent the organ from functioning properly. This can cause further complications.

Collecting Damages in a Medical Malpractice Claim

If you suffered organ damage, compensation for your injuries may be available. Generally this includes your medical expenses (current and future) and lost wages. These are referred to as economic damages, since they have a specific value attached to them.

Non-economical damages can address losses such as:

  • pain and suffering;
  • mental anguish; and
  • disability.

In Ohio, there is a sliding cap on these types of damages. It cannot be more than the greater of $250,000 or three times the economic loss, up to a maximum of $350,000 per patient or $500,000 per occurrence.

Statute of Limitations in a Medical Malpractice Case

The timeframe to file a claim is much shorter than in most states, which is generally two years. In Ohio you have just one year from the date the organ damage happened – or when it is discovered – to file your case.

A claim may not be filed after four years, although if you do not discover the injury until after three years or a foreign object is left in the body, you have one year from the date of discovery or the date when the injury or object should have reasonably been discovered.

An extension of 180 days may be granted if a written notice of the claim is submitted to the healthcare provider named in the lawsuit within the one-year period.

The one-year time limit seems long to some, but time can go by quickly when dealing with medical and physical recovery, so it’s best to act quickly, especially because you will want to begin preserving evidence as soon as possible.

Seeking Help from a Medical Malpractice Attorney in Cleveland

According to State Health Facts, in 2010 the state of Ohio paid out on 211 medical malpractice claims totaling $67,056.500. The average payment was $317,803.

The reality is that medical malpractice can significantly alter an individual’s life, financially, physically and emotionally. Consult with a medical malpractice attorney at the Becker Law Firm in Cleveland if medical negligence caused you to sustain severe organ damage as a result of a surgical mistake. Call us: (440) 252-4399.

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