While all surgeries have their associated risks, abdominal operations are considered among the more high risk procedures in medicine. This is due to the chance that surgeons may perforate organs unintentionally and damage to the bowel can result in serious medical complications that require immediate correction. In addition to requiring emergency corrective surgery, patients that suffer from a perforated bowel may be subject to extended postoperative recovery periods and have a significant risk of dying if their conditions are not promptly addressed. The Chicago bowel damage injury attorneys of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers work on behalf of those who have been injured or lost loved ones due to the careless actions of a surgeon charged with their care.
High Likelihood of Bowel Damage Signals Need for Caution and Transparency
The risks associated with abdominal surgical procedures are often understated and many patients are shocked when they encounter predictable complications that they were never warned about. Skilled surgeons are able to mitigate the risks somewhat and should have the ability to detect problems throughout an operation in order to make needed adjustments and repairs. It is actually more common for surgical errors to occur than most people think, but many of them do not result in serious injury because surgeons are trained to notice and repair problems such as perforations.
One of the main complaints patients who allege malpractice have is that they were not informed of the risks associated with their procedures so that they could know what to expect. Surgeons themselves need to make sure to acquire all of the information they can about patients’ health histories and medical conditions so that they can properly assess risks and communicate them to patients. It is important that patients not only be made aware of the risks, but consent to the procedures after having all of the facts.
Other factors that can increase the risk of a bowel perforation during surgical procedures include peptic ulcers, appendicitis, Crohn’s disease and other inflammatory diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome.
Types of Procedures Which Risk Perforation of the Bowel
The bowel is made up of the small and large intestines and plays an important role in the distribution of nutrients into the blood as well as the removal of toxins and waste from the body. Procedures that may result in bowel perforation can include the following.
- Colonoscopies — these procedures help doctors detect the presence of polyps, tumors and cancerous masses in the colon, or the large intestine. While they are diagnostic procedures that do not require any incisions, it is possible for the device to tear the intestines if the physician performing the exam does not take appropriate cautions.
- Caesarean sections — in the case of high risk pregnancies, prolonged labor or other difficulties during childbirth, doctors may order a C-section. It is possible during the procedure to unintentionally cause damage to the intestines which may go unnoticed until the mother shows symptoms of complications later on.
- Gall bladder surgeries — the location of the gall bladder places it where surgeons need to work in close proximity to the intestines. Since it is possible to cut the bowels with a minor slip of the hand, it is important that surgeons check their work before closing the patient up in order to detect any perforations and take needed action.
- Laparoscopic surgeries — while laparoscopic surgeries are advertised as minimally invasive and low-risk, these descriptions are misleading at best. During these operations, a fiber optic device is used to see inside of the abdomen through a smaller incision. The advantages of laparoscopic surgery are the smaller incisions and that patients may benefit from quicker recovery periods, but the instruments that are used may still perforate the bowel or other internal organs. It is still possible for a surgeon to miss a critical error, however, which can result in grave consequences.
Ways Surgeons Treat or Repair Perforated Bowels
Early detection of perforation is key to effective treatment because of the risk patients have of developing infections, suffering from septic shock, experiencing an intestinal fluid leak or developing peritonitis. The manners in which a surgeon may treat a perforation during or following the initial procedure include the following.
- Surgical repair of the bowel during the operation. If the error is noticed before the surgery is over, the surgeon can fix the problem before closing the wound and take precautionary measures to reduce the risk of infection and complication. These measures include the use of precautionary antibiotics and ordering close monitoring of the patient during recovery.
- Performing a colostomy to reroute the bowel. If revision surgery is needed to repair the damage caused by a perforated bowel, the surgeon may perform a colostomy to redirect the flow of intestinal fluids and waste. This could be reversed later after the patient has recovered, but in some cases, it is permanent.
- Emergency surgery to repair organ damage. It is possible for inflammation or the rapid spread of infection to require emergency action in order to save the patient’s life.
Our Chicago bowel damage injury lawyers note that in the majority of negligence cases, the doctor failed to notice the problem when it occurred and the resulting injuries were completely avoidable. Patients with perforated bowels can present with symptoms such as extreme pain at the location of the injury, fever, abdominal inflammation and nausea. When this occurs, it is almost always certain that additional operations will be required to fix the damage.
How Bowel Perforation Results from Medical Malpractice
While there is a high risk of bowel perforation during abdominal procedures, there are certain duties of care that surgeons must perform to reduce risks and keep patients informed. The following are ways that a surgeon may be considered negligent if his or her patient is injured due to a perforation of the bowel or other internal organ.
- Failing to discuss all of the risk factors with patients so that they can make an educated decision regarding their medical care. Patients need to be notified of the risks they face and consent to take on these risks before undergoing a high-risk procedure. The fact that some abdominal procedures are being marketed as low-risk when they are not illustrates the irresponsible attitudes and actions of many in the medical field.
- Injuring the patient during the surgical procedure. Mistakes happen, but it is important to acknowledge them and fix them in a timely manner. It can be considered malpractice if a surgeon injures a patient and then fails to notice the injury before sealing the surgical wound.
- Failing to follow up with the patient. Since abdominal procedures are high-risk operations, it is crucial for doctors to monitor the progress of their patients’ recoveries and to be prepared to act immediately at any sign of a serious complication. The failure to communicate with patients and to diagnose a perforation in a reasonable time can be considered negligent.
- Failing to involve patients in their treatment plans. One of the most overlooked factors in patients’ recoveries is their own contribution. They need to be provided the educational resources and instructions they need to be able to get involved in their own treatment so that they can make healthy decisions which will accelerate their recoveries. The failure of a physician to make sure that a patient is aware of his or her role in the treatment plan might be considered negligent.
Let Our Proficient Attorneys Review Your Case for Free
If you have been injured due to a perforated bowel suffered during a surgical procedure, it may be possible for you to recover compensation for the cost of your medical care, out of pocket expenses and undue pain and suffering. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers has helped thousands of people just like you and we would like to help you determine which course of action is right for you. The first step is to investigate your claim and determine what went wrong and why. From there, we can determine who is to blame and how to ensure they are held accountable.
Contact us today to be connected with one of our award winning Chicago bowel damage injury attorneys so that we can gather all of the information we need to get to work on your behalf. We will review your legal options with you and answer your questions so that you can make an informed decision on how you wish to proceed. We work solely on contingency, so we are also able to assure you that our services will not cost you a thing until we have succeeded in recovering the compensation you deserve.