Experienced medical malpractice attorneys have long known that it can be difficult to discover information about a mistake made in the operating room. The patient is usually sedated or unconscious, after all, and has no idea what is going on during surgery. And in the U.S., unlike in many other countries, most surgeries are not recorded.
Hospitals are very reluctant to disclose errors to patients. This reluctance puts well-meaning patients in a difficult spot: they just want to get better and know what is wrong. But without knowing specifically the error involved, it can be difficult for patients to realize why their health has not improved after surgery. In some cases, the delay can lead to tragedy.
A new story out of a local ABC affiliate recently highlighted a sampling of several hospitals and surgeons who refused to disclose errors made during surgery. These cover-ups included:
- Failing to reveal surgical gauze left in a patient’s stomach
- Failing to disclose the reason for a surgical fire that gave first, second and third-degree burns to the patient
- A dental surgery that resulted in infection, and tragically, death, for a patient who went in for dental implants
These are just recent examples from one local area. Such events often happen around the country, including in Massachusetts.
Patients have legal rights in the wake of experiencing an error during surgery. Sometimes, the most difficult part of asserting that right is figuring out what went wrong in the hospital.
If you have questions about your legal rights, including your right to know what happened during your surgery and your legal options in the wake of experiencing surgical error, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney.