If you have a surgery coming up in the next few weeks or months, you might be feeling a little nervous about the procedure. You probably also have many questions for your doctor and the surgeon who will be performing the operation. What is the purpose of the operation? What will the next step be if the surgery doesn’t help me? How long will it take me to recover? These are all very good questions that you should make sure you ask your doctor before surgery, but you should also make sure that you are informed about any complications that could occur during your operation.
No one wants to focus on the negative when it comes to health issues, but as one Illinois patient’s case points out, it is important that patients are aware of the risks of any procedure so that they can make an educated decision regarding whether they want to take those risks. Perhaps one complication of surgery is paralysis, but the operation isn’t necessary or will only result in minor improvements in one’s health. With this in mind, would a patient still want to go through with the operation?
In 2002, an Illinois woman had a surgical operation performed on her spine. However, she might not have chosen to go through with the operation had she been properly informed about the risks of the procedure. When she woke up after surgery, she could not move her right arm. Doctors examined the woman and concluded that she suffered nerve damage in her right arm and around parts of her spinal cord.
After learning that she had suffered permanent injuries, the woman also discovered that this type of nerve damage is a known complication of the surgical operation that had been performed on her spine. However, the patient was never informed about this possible risk prior to her surgery. This prompted the patient to file a lawsuit against the surgeon and the facility where the operation had been performed.
Complications cannot always be prevented during surgery, but patients do deserve to be informed about any possible risks, especially when a complication could have a permanent effect on a patient’s health, the woman’s lawsuit argued. After suffering permanent injuries from the operation nearly 10 years ago, it was reported last week that the woman finally reached a settlement in her case.
Source: The Madison-St. Clair Record, “Med mal trial involving Belleville neurosurgeon settles,” Christina Stueve, April 24, 2012