Sweeney Law Firm Video Library

INsight | Medical Complication vs. Medical Malpractice

April 5, 2019

Dr. Nich King sits down with INsight to explain some of the differences between Medical Complications and Medical Malpractice.

Host: Welcome back. We are here at the Sweeney Studios today. We’re with Dr. Nich King. He’s both a board-certified neurologist and, who practices medicine, you’re also an attorney who helps with medical malpractice cases at Sweeney Law Firm. So we want to talk today about the practice of medicine. It’s not perfect science, which, you know, it’s unfortunate, but it’s true. We’re not perfect people, but when patients undergo surgery or tests, sometimes things don’t go exactly as planned, right?

Dr. King: Right. That’s what we call a complication and there are different types of complications. There are complications that are known complications, that sometimes even when you, when a doctor or surgeon uses the, the utmost care, there can still be accidents, that happens, but then there are complications where either the doctor didn’t take the requisite amount of care, maybe was a little sloppy, a little careless, and causes a complication that maybe should have been prevented.

Host: So there’s definitely a difference between complication and a malpractice. So let’s talk about what that difference is.

Dr. King: Right, so malpractice would be if a reasonable surgeon would have taken appropriate measures to prevent the complication, then, but yet your surgeon does not, that’s malpractice. So if it’s one of those things where, like I said, even if the, the best surgeon on the planet is performing the operation, they’re still going to make mistakes occasionally. That’s not malpractice. But if they, they don’t do something that they should to prevent the complication, then that is malpractice.

Host: So we were discussing a little bit before we went on the air about what is a, a known complication and whether or not that makes it okay because it’s a known complication. So is that a good defense? “Hey I, it’s a known complication, so it’s all right.”

Dr. King: Well, it’s interesting. There’s two aspects to that, so if the, if there is a known complication, then one of the things that the surgeon is required to do is to prevent the complication. So, for example, if a, if a surgeon is performing a knee, a knee operation and there’s a nerve right near where the surgeon’s going to be performing the operation, and the surgeon knows that there’s that nerve there and a lot of times surgeons will nick that nerve, then the surgeon has to take care to prevent, to try to prevent nicking that nerve. Maybe separating the nerve away from the knee, and the, and the surgeon really needs to document that in their operative note. If they don’t document that they took the measures necessary to try to prevent this known complication, well, then, that’s clearly malpractice. Now, the second aspect of it is, anybody who’s ever had surgery knows, that when you go in for surgery you have what’s called informed consent. So the surgeon will list all the different possible things, bleeding, infection, damage to a, adjacent structures, death even sometimes, and a lot of surgeons, when they’re defending themselves, basically, say, “Well, you know, I listed that as a potential complication and so if it happens, then I’m off the hook.” Well, that’s not really the case. I mean, if you, if a surgeon lists something as a complication, but then is careless and causes that complication through their, their carelessness, then it’s still malpractice.

Host: So what do we do if we think we have been the victim of medical malpractice?

Dr. King: So, the first thing would be to, to call an attorney. Call our law firm, Sweeney Law Firm. We, we look at the records, I look at the records, I look at the operative note, I look at what the surgeon documented, I look to see if there is a complication, if that was a known complication, if the surgeon did everything they could to prevent it, or if they were just careless. And then if we believe that we can represent that client and potentially proceed with that malpractice case, then we proceed with it

Host: It doesn’t hurt to get that consultation because I’m not a doctor. I don’t play one on TV, and so I don’t know these things, but if I feel like that could be the case, it is definitely worth the time and effort to have you guys look at that, and so if you think you may have been the victim medical malpractice, all you have to do is call Sweeney Law Firm or check them out on line, Do that today. We’ll be right back.

You can download the full transcript here.