Are Surgeon Responsible for Medical Mistakes?


When a surgeon makes a mistake, it doesn’t always mean that they are liable to the patient or that the patient has a valid surgical or medical malpractice claim against them. Further, when a surgery has a bad outcome, that also doesn’t mean that they committed surgical or medical malpractice.

In order to prove a surgical malpractice claim, the surgical malpractice lawyer will have to prove the following four essential elements:


A professional duty is the first element in a surgical malpractice claim. Was the surgeon responsible for performing surgery on the patient? If the answer is yes, then duty has been established.


The next element in the surgical malpractice claim is a breach of duty. Once the attorney has proven that the surgeon had a duty to care for the patient, the attorney must next prove that the surgeon breached that duty. In other words, they have to prove that the surgeon failed to provide the standard of care expected of them. A classic example of breach of duty is when a surgeon leaves a surgical tool inside the patient’s body during surgery. Surgeons are expected to remove all surgical tools used during surgery from the body cavity. If they fail to do so, they have breached the duty they owe to their patient.


The next element the surgical malpractice attorney must prove is causation. If they can establish that the patient’s injury would not have occurred if it weren’t for the surgeon’s actions or inactions, then they have proved causation. In other words, in order for the surgical malpractice claim to be successful, the attorney must prove that the surgeon’s mistake – their negligence – led to the patient’s injuries and/or increased the patient’s risk of harm from sustaining their injuries. For instance, if the surgeon was supposed to remove the right foot of the patient and instead removed the left foot, the surgeon’s removal of the left foot caused the patient’s injuries (the loss of their left foot).


The last element the surgical malpractice attorney must prove is damages. The attorney will need to establish that, as the result of the surgeon’s medical negligence, the patient suffered injuries.  

If the surgical malpractice attorney can prove the above four elements, the client’s surgical medical malpractice claim will have all the essential elements to move forward in a court of law.

If you believe you or a loved one has suffered an injury as the result of a surgeon’s mistake, contact the experienced surgical malpractice lawyers at VSCP LAW.

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