Can a doctor be sued for his negligence during a surgery which resulted in an infection.

Full Question:

My colleague was diagnosed with acute appendix pain last week. His doctor advised that he get it removed surgically. This is not the first time I had come across appendectomy as it is a fairly common surgical procedure. However, during the appendectomy, the appendix burst due to the negligent use of surgical clips by the surgeon. This caused peritonitis which is an infection that causes redness and swelling (inflammation) of the belly that can occur if the appendix bursts during surgery. He had to stay in the hospital for a further period of 2 weeks because of the infection. Can he sue his doctor and the hospital for the negligent act in the above circumstances?
11/09/2016   |   Category: Negligence   |   State: ALL   |   #26481


Yes, from the above-described circumstances, your colleague may sue his doctor for medical negligence. Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor fails to perform his duties per the medical standards. Doctors may be found negligent in performing their duty if they misdiagnosed an illness, not follow proper medical procedures or discloses appropriate information to a competent patient so that the patient may make a voluntary choice to accept or refuse treatment.
The patient alleging medical malpractice must prove four elements or legal requirements to make out a successful claim of medical malpractice. These elements include:
  1. The existence of a legal duty on the part of the doctor to provide care or treatment to the patient;
  2. A breach of this duty by a failure of the treating doctor to adhere to the standards of the profession;
  3. A causal relationship between such breach of duty and injury to the patient; and
  4. The existence of damages that flow from the injury such that the legal system can provide redress.
Your colleague is also entitled to sue the doctor for recovering the cost incurred for the extended stay in the hospital. He had to stay in the hospital to recover from the infection that was a result of the negligent medical procedure. When it comes to suing the hospital, he may not be successful as hospitals are not responsible for a doctor’s malpractice. Most doctors are independent contractors and not employees of the hospital. There are some exceptions to this rule too.