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How do surgical complications differ from malpractice?

A study published in February 2017 in the Journal of the Korean Association on Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons captured how patients shouldn’t think of every surgical complication that arises as medical malpractice. The authors reviewed more than 1,500 Turkish oral surgery cases. They used those surgical outcomes to develop a clearer picture of how a surgical complication differs from doctor error or malpractice.

The study’s authors acknowledged at the beginning of their journal article that it’s not uncommon for individuals to use various terms or concepts, including “malpractice,” “adverse reaction,” “complication” and “side effects” interchangeably. The researchers noted that while each of these concepts is interconnected, they each have different meanings.

Study authors noted that the terminology “side effects” describes undesirable symptoms that a patient may experience alongside the original ones they were attempting to treat. The authors describe a “complication” as other symptoms or diseases that a patient may develop while treating another condition. They define “malpractice” as an illicit act resulting from a member of the medical team’s professional negligence.

The authors described examples of these different phenomena to help others understand the difference in them.

Study authors pointed out that an instance in which a doctor performed surgery on the wrong body part, caused trauma to an area outside of the surgical site or left a tool or gauze inside of a patient would be malpractice. The authors also agreed that any hemorrhage, post-operative infection or neurologic injury and drug side effects fall under the heading of complications.

The study authors emphasized how doctors can do more to reduce their medical malpractice lawsuit chances. One of the best ways that they can do this, they asserted, is by properly planning out procedures, being more thorough in explaining treatments to patients and improving communication among the medical team.

Countless surgical procedures happen daily without resulting in any complications or errors, both here in Louisiana and elsewhere in this country. However, there are those few procedures that result in a permanent decline in a patient’s quality of life forever. An attorney can help you hold the Baton Rouge doctor who left you a shell of the person you once were accountable for their negligence so that they’ll think twice before they ever do such a thing again.

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