Minimally invasive surgery can generally be described as any type of operation that involves tiny incisions in or near the surgical site, as opposed to creating a large opening in a patient’s body. Minimally invasive surgeries are usually performed using robots, special surgical techniques, electronic medical devices, and unique surgical tools, such as a power morcellator.
In most instances, minimally invasive surgeries help patients to avoid undergoing major incisions that are normally associated with standard operations. This also tends to give patients the benefit of a shorter recovery time after the surgery is complete and can be done on an outpatient basis.
However, each minimally invasive surgery may use different medical tools and surgical techniques depending on where a patient’s surgical site is located. As such, these procedures tend to vary on a case-by-case basis.
Therefore, in the event that you are injured during a minimally invasive surgical procedure, you should contact a local personal injury lawyer for further legal assistance with your matter. A lawyer will be able to provide representation in court and can help you to potentially recover any monetary damages that you might be owed as a result of your injuries.
What are the Benefits of This Type of Surgery?
There are many benefits to getting minimally invasive surgery, as opposed to undergoing a major medical operation. The most obvious one of these benefits is that it only takes a tiny incision to perform this kind of surgery on a patient rather than opening up an entire area on their body (e.g., a small cut in one’s knee versus cutting open their entire knee to complete a knee-related operation).
Some other benefits that a patient may experience when electing to get this type of surgery include:
- A quicker recovery time;
- Less pain overall;
- Little to no time spent recovering in a hospital; and/or
- No scarring or a minimal amount of scars from the surgery.
What was One of the First Types of Minimally Invasive Surgery?
One of the first types of minimally invasive surgery was a procedure known as laparoscopy. The surgery is performed through one or a series of tiny incisions in the required area on a patient. A surgeon or physician will typically conduct the surgery by using a small camera that is attached to one of the medical instruments making the incisions. This small camera enables a medical professional to view the surgical site on a patient through a magnifying lens.
Today, there are many different kinds of surgical robots that can perform minimally invasive surgeries. The reason for this is because studies show that the techniques applied in minimally invasive surgeries can reduce some of the potential risks that may be associated with a particular type of surgery.
However, this does not mean that a patient will be free from harm. Thus, it is possible for a patient to sue a surgeon or doctor for any injuries received during an operation.
Can I Sue a Surgeon for Improperly Performing Minimally Invasive Surgery?
Generally speaking, a surgeon may potentially be sued for medical malpractice if an injured party can prove that the surgeon improperly performed minimally invasive surgery, which led to their injuries. Medical malpractice lawsuits are a catchall area of the law that involve claims of personal injury caused by medical professionals like doctors and surgeons.
In most instances, the basis of a medical malpractice lawsuit will rely on a theory of negligence. Basically, the plaintiff will need to show that the surgeon or doctor breached the duty of care that they owed to them as a patient and were negligent in doing so. In turn, the patient then suffered additional injuries and medical costs as a result of the doctor or surgeon’s negligent conduct during the minimally invasive surgical procedure.
Who Else can be Held Liable for a Minimally Invasive Surgery Injury?
Aside from the main parties discussed in the above section, the manufacturer of the robots or other medical equipment used during a patient’s minimally invasive surgical procedure may also be held liable for any injuries received from such products. This is especially true in cases where the electronic medical instruments or robot were found to be defective. In which case, the patient may be able to file a claim for defective products liability.
Specifically, there are three main types of product defects that may form the basis of a defective products liability lawsuit. These may include:
- A design defect: A design defect refers to a flaw that is part of a product’s overall design. For example, if the robot’s arms are always tilted in a certain direction, then the surgery may end up being performed on the wrong area or body part on a patient.
- A manufacturing defect: In contrast, the design may be perfect in this scenario, but there may be a problem with the way that a product is assembled. For instance, if the robot was missing nuts and bolts that held it together, or alternatively, was not updated to include the latest advances in medical technology.
- A warning label defect: A claim for this type of defect may arise in a number of ways. For example, if the manufacturer either failed to place a warning label or to include instructions with the product in question. A warning label defect is also said to occur when a manufacturer uses an inadequate warning label or inserts improper instructions.
In addition, a retailer or seller of medical equipment may also be held legally responsible for a plaintiff’s injuries in some cases. A retailer or seller of medical equipment may be held liable for a defective medical product if they knowingly sold minimally invasive surgery equipment that contained a defect and/or was subjected to a recall by the manufacturer.
If a plaintiff is able to prove that any of these parties were liable for causing the injuries they received during their operation, then they may be able to recover monetary damages to pay for any expenses associated with their injury, such as loss of wages, hospital expenses, or pain and suffering.
Are There any Limitations on Damages?
There may be a limit on the damages that one can collect when they prevail in a lawsuit for injuries stemming from a minimally invasive surgery procedure. Whether or not there is a limit on monetary damages will depend on both the individual facts of a case as well as on the laws for damages awards implemented in a particular jurisdiction.
For example, a handful of states will limit the amount of damages that a winning plaintiff can recover in a medical malpractice lawsuit. This limit or restriction is known as a “damage cap”, which may be used to prevent plaintiffs from filing frivolous lawsuits or to protect certain defendant parties from continuously making large payouts. Again, a damage cap will only apply in specific situations and only if the jurisdiction recognizes such restrictions.
Another scenario in which a plaintiff to a minimally invasive surgery lawsuit may encounter a limitation on the amount of monetary damages they can receive is if the defendant in the case can prove that they helped to contribute to their own injuries. Again, this will be contingent on negligent laws in a particular jurisdiction and the facts surrounding a specific case.
For instance, if the surgery took place in a jurisdiction that recognized pure contributory negligence and the defendant could prove that the plaintiff was even one-percent responsible for causing their own injuries, then the plaintiff will be barred from recovering any damages.
In other places, such as those that recognize different versions of modified comparative negligence theories, a plaintiff’s damages award may only be reduced by the percentage of which they are found to be at fault.
Some examples of actions that may result in a plaintiff’s monetary damages award being limited or reduced in a minimally invasive surgery lawsuit can include the following:
- Failing to adhere to the instructions or warnings provided by a physician before, during, and after the plaintiff’s procedure;
- Ignoring the directions or commands given by a nurse or another personnel member of a medical facility concerning the plaintiff’s duties to adequately prepare to undergo the surgery (e.g., watch videos, read legal risks, do not eat prior to surgery, etc.);
- Failing to comply with the post operation plan discussed with their physician (e.g., periodic check-ups, removing stitches, and so on); and/or
- Various other kinds of activities that would contradict the advice of a doctor or other medical personnel involved with the plaintiff’s minimally invasive surgery procedure.
Should I Contact a Lawyer about a Minimally Invasive Surgery Lawsuit?
You may want to consider hiring a local personal injury lawyer if you believe you have suffered injuries and/or further health-related issues due to the actions of a surgeon while undergoing a minimally invasive surgery procedure. An experienced personal injury lawyer can assist you in filing a lawsuit against the surgeon, hospital, or other medical facility responsible for causing you to sustain an injury during a minimally invasive surgery.
Your lawyer can also advise you on other legal options you can pursue that may potentially be available to you under the laws in your state. In addition, if you have any questions or concerns regarding minimally invasive surgery lawsuits, your lawyer will be able to address these with you as well. Lastly, if you need to appear in court, your lawyer can also provide legal representation on your behalf.