Oregon medical malpractice claims for negligent laparoscopic surgery

Called minimally invasive surgery because it eliminates the need for a larger, traditional surgical incision, laparoscopic surgery is a relatively modern technique in which the surgeon performs an operation through tubes that enter the body at one or more half-inch incisions. Called trocars or ports, the tubes are tiny tunnels into the body through which a doctor can insert miniature illuminating video cameras as well as surgical instruments to perform procedures underneath the skin, guided visually by the video camera feed.

Laparoscopy gone wrong

In summer 2013, Physician Risk Management published the anonymous summary of a New York medical malpractice lawsuit in which a surgeon used laparoscopic techniques in a failed attempt to repair an earlier botched colonoscopy that had left three holes in the patient's colon. The jury reportedly awarded $1.5 million in total damages to the patient - with 60 percent of the liability going to the initial gastroenterologist who did the colonoscopy and 40 percent to the laparoscopic surgeon for failing to properly repair the perforated organ, causing the need for even further reparative surgery and more pain and suffering.

Laparoscopic pros

Laparoscopic surgery when performed according to accepted, reasonable medical standards of care can be preferable to traditional surgery because of faster recovery time (and less time in the hospital), smaller scars, less pain and reduced chance of blood loss. In addition to being used for repairs, laparoscopic surgical techniques often are used to replace traditional operations, such as gall bladder removal and hysterectomies. Mayo Clinic lists many procedures that can be done laparoscopically.

Laparoscopic cons

Among the more common problems from laparoscopic surgery can be the mistaken puncturing of an organ or inadvertent severing of a duct, artery or vein. Either of these events can cause bodily fluids to enter places in the body they should not, wreaking all forms of havoc on the system, depending on the situation, including severe infection and death in extreme situations.

Physician liability

From a legal standpoint, the issue in determining whether a surgeon committed medical malpractice or was negligent and therefore liable for a bad outcome from laparoscopic surgery often turns on whether the error happened because the doctor departed from reasonable professional standards of care or whether the mishap was considered an accepted risk of the procedure to which the patient knowingly consented.

Medical malpractice is traditionally a question of state law. In Oregon, the law asks whether the surgeon used the "degree of care, skill and diligence that is used by ordinarily careful physicians in the same or similar circumstances in the community of the physician or a similar community."

Answering this question can be very complex and require the use of medical experts. Any Oregonian who experiences a negative result after laparoscopic surgery should contact an experienced personal injury attorney as early as possible so that legal counsel can immediately review medical records and launch an investigation on the patient's behalf. This includes bringing on board medical experts to review the case.

In addition, a knowledgeable medical malpractice lawyer is important because Oregon medical malpractice law and procedure is complicated. An attorney can advise a plaintiff about required deadlines, requirements for dispute resolution and more, in the decision whether to pursue a lawsuit for economic damages like medical expenses and lost wages, and noneconomic damages like those for pain and suffering. If a patient can prove that a doctor acted with malice, punitive damages are also available - those meant to punish the defendant doctor.