If you or someone you love has suffered complications from a botched cardiac surgery, you may be facing exorbitant medical bills and emotional turmoil. Our heart surgery attorneys in St. Petersburg, Florida can assess your case for free to determine if you may be entitled to compensation.
We have recovered more than $27 million for our clients in settlements and verdicts, and we have extensive experience in medical malpractice cases. To schedule a free consultation, dial (727) 821-1500 today.
Common Complications Caused by Heart Surgery
The heart is a vital organ that oxygenates the blood and circulates it throughout your body. Without this steady supply, parts of your body will struggle or cease to function. As such, if anything goes wrong during a heart surgery, the consequences can be life-threatening, leading to ongoing health issues and steep medical expenses. This is where a heart surgery attorney in St. Petersburg, Florida may be able to help.
Common mistakes during heart procedures include:
- Stent Errors: If a patient’s arteries are blocked, a stent—a small mesh tube used to prop open arteries—may be surgically inserted to allow for steady blood flow to and from the heart. While the procedure has been shown to reduce a patient’s heart attack risk, mistakes during surgery could cause the patient’s condition to worsen. For instance, if the surgeon perforates the artery while inserting the stent, the patient could suffer internal bleeding. Cardiac stents can also cause infections as the metal might irritate the inside of the artery. While not all complications are the result of medical malpractice, it’s possible—if you are suffering these symptoms—that your healthcare provider was reckless or negligent when inserting the stent.
- Pacemaker Insertion Errors: A pacemaker is a small device placed under the skin in your chest to help regulate your heart rhythm. However, mistakes during surgery could lead to the perforation of an artery while trying to implant this device. As a result, the patient could suffer a stroke, bleeding, shock, infection, or a collapsed lung. Other signs of an improperly implanted pacemaker include fever, pain, and sepsis. The patient may need to undergo additional procedures to fix this improper implantation. This could lead to a range of expenses such as additional testing, surgeries, prescription medication, hospital stay, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
- Anesthesia Errors: Typically, patients undergoing heart surgery will be placed under anesthesia for the duration of the procedure. This potent sedative needs to be administered carefully to avoid harming the patient. Anesthesia errors can lead to brain damage, strokes, blood clots, heart attacks, respiratory issues, anaphylaxis, or death. We may consult with medical specialists to determine whether any of your symptoms were caused by anesthesia errors.
- Leaving Foreign Objects in Body Cavity: Left behind in the body, sharp objects like scalpels and needles can perforate arteries, vital organs, and soft tissues causing internal bleeding and other life-threatening complications. Even softer objects can pose a serious health risk. For instance, strips of gauze and sponges can gather bacteria, festering inside the body and causing infections. Common signs of an unintended retention of foreign objects can include a high fever, discoloration around the incision area, swelling at the surgery site, vomiting, and tingling in hands and feet.
Elements to Prove in a Medical Malpractice Case
To obtain a financial award, you must prove the following elements:
- Duty of Care: You must be able to show that the defendant owed you a duty of care. Fortunately, demonstrating this legal responsibility is usually simple in a heart surgery malpractice case as this duty of care is agreed on the moment the healthcare provider-patient relationship begins. Healthcare providers owe a duty to patients to treat them with applicable standards of care. For instance, your surgeon should not experiment with unproven techniques during the procedure.
- Breach of the Duty of Care: Your lawyer will have to prove how the healthcare provider or facility breached their responsibility to provide treatment in line with the applicable standards of care. Your heart surgery lawyer in St. Petersburg, Florida will need evidence that shows the medical provider failed to use the most widely accepted standards of care applicable in your circumstances. He or she may also call on a cardiologist or cardiothoracic surgeon to provide deposition regarding the healthcare provider’s deviation from these standards.
- Causation: Once your attorney has shown that the healthcare provider was negligent, he or she will need to connect their negligence to the damages you’ve suffered. As such, if the doctor’s errors did not lead to any losses—for instance, the mistake was addressed before further complications arose—you may not receive compensation.
- Damages: While you may have suffered physically, emotionally, and financially due to your doctor’s negligence, you will not receive a financial award unless you can prove your losses. A settlement or verdict in a medical malpractice case can account for a wide range of damages, from your additional medical expenses and lost wages to the pain and suffering you’ve endured due to your injuries. As medical malpractice victims often incur significant damages, insurers tend to commit substantial resources toward challenging their claims. Your lawyer might call on medical experts, economists, and other expert witnesses to provide deposition regarding the anticipated costs of future healthcare and the value of future lost income.
What Steps Should I Take After Suffering Heart Surgery Complications?
While heart surgery is an invasive procedure, modern advances have made going under the knife safer than ever before. However, mistakes do still happen and can be fatal for the patient.
If you believe medical malpractice is to blame for health issues stemming from the surgery, take the steps listed here as soon as possible:
- Seek Treatment: While you should inform the surgeon of a failed surgery or the symptoms you’re experiencing, you don’t necessarily have to rely on them for further care—particularly if you believe the doctor made an error. Once you’ve found a new doctor, you should make sure to follow their instructions throughout your recovery. This includes attending follow-ups, taking medication he or she has prescribed, and avoiding physical activity if necessary. Sticking to your treatment plan can aid your recovery and prevent disputes over failure to mitigate damages.
- Gather Evidence: Strong evidence is the backbone of a convincing claim. Any evidence you can gather after the surgery could help your heart surgery lawyer prove liability, causation, and damages. Remember that your attorney will need to show that the outcome of the surgery would have been different had your healthcare provider not been negligent. Evidence that could help support your claim can include diagnostic images, medical records, the facility’s standard operating procedures, and deposition from medical experts. You should also keep copies of all correspondence with the surgical team and the facility where the operation took place to share with your attorney during the initial consultation.
- Track Your Damages: A single misplaced receipt could mean the difference between a fair settlement and a financial award that falls short of covering the full extent of your damages. As such, you should create a dedicated folder to compile all relevant statements, bills, receipts, and invoices documenting your costs such as lost wages, medical expenses, and replacement services. Based on the circumstances surrounding your case, you may also be able to seek non-economic damages such as loss of enjoyment of life and pain and suffering. To help prove such losses, your lawyer might advise you to begin tracking your pain levels and symptoms in a personal injury journal.
Contact Us Today to Speak to a Heart Surgery Attorney in St. Petersburg, Florida
If you believe you’ve suffered health issues due to a botched cardiac surgery, turn to our legal team for a free consultation. At Emerson Straw PL, our attorneys can answer your questions, weigh in on the strengths and weaknesses of your case, and discuss your options. Call (727) 821-1500 or shoot us a message to connect with one of our attorneys.