Transplants have the potential to save lives. As medical science improves, patients who previously might have had very poor outlooks have the potential to see considerably better outcomes. Unfortunately, surgical transplants have the potential for significant errors, many of which can be incredibly detrimental to overall patient outcomes.
Doctors test organ compatibility before a transplant. First, doctors will take care of blood type matching, ensuring that patients receive an organ of the proper blood type for their needs. Next, organs will need to go through HLA or tissue typing to ensure that they have the right number of matching antigens. While doctors can transplant some organs, including kidneys, successfully without antigen matches, in some cases, a lack of an antigen match can make an organ incompatible.
An incompatible organ can cause the host body to reject the new organ. In some cases, that can mean that the patient must go back on the transplant list, often with decreased overall quality of life. In other cases, however, transplant rejection can result in patient death. Failure to conduct proper testing before an organ transplant can create immense problems for the recipient.
During the surgical process, if the surgeon and medical staff do not exercise all possible care, several errors can occur, leading to a decline in overall patient health.
Operating on the Wrong Organ
Some organs, like lungs and kidneys, come in pairs. Sometimes, patients may require surgery on just one of the pair of organs. However, if the surgeon operates on the wrong one, including removing a non-diseased or damaged organ, it can lead to a substantial decline in patient quality of life or even patient death. In other cases, the doctor may remove the wrong organ, which can cause immense problems for the patient, especially without another organ available.
Introduction of Infection
Transplants require a sterile environment and extreme care in dealing with the patient. When doctors do not maintain sterility during operating procedures, from dropping surgical instruments to failing to scrub in properly, it can lead to considerable patient injury. Infections can cause serious problems following transplant surgery, including sepsis and even death.
Failing to Remove Surgical Tools or Equipment
The transplant process opens the patient’s body and makes room for not only the new organ but also some surgical tools. During the surgery, surgeons and medical care providers must account for all those tools to ensure a safe surgical experience for the patient.
Leaving those tools behind in the body after surgery, including gauze, can lead to extreme complications for the patient, raising the risk of infection. Patients may also need an additional surgical procedure to remove the left-behind materials from the body.
Lack of Authorization From the Donor
Before harvesting an organ for transplant, either from a living or deceased donor, the hospital must have permission from the donor. Donor permission may come in direct authorization from a living donor or permission from the deceased’s family to harvest those organs.
Unfortunately, a mix-up can sometimes occur, and the doctor or hospital may end up harvesting an organ without permission. Not only can this result in severe distress to the donor’s family, but it can also cause psychological distress and challenges for the organ recipient.
Improper Anesthesia Dosing
People who need a transplant often have several potential health challenges, which can make anesthesia dosing even more difficult. Improper anesthesia administration can increase the risk of injury or death due to an organ transplant.
Negligent Care After Surgery
Following the transplant process, patients need careful care and supervision. Transplant patients have a high risk of developing many complications. Some patients may develop infections because of organ transplants. Other patients may have an increased risk of infection. Care providers must carefully monitor their patients to reduce those risks. When a risk emerges, care providers may need to act quickly to protect the patient’s health.
Failure to provide adequate care after surgery can take several forms.
Failure to Monitor
Sometimes, doctors may fail to check in with their patients and monitor their symptoms after a transplant. Failure to adequately monitor patients can cause doctors to miss potential warning signs, which could lead to dangerous infections or rejection. Patients may need to receive monitoring in the hospital in the initial days after the transplant and long-term monitoring when they return home.
Failure to Respond to Symptoms
When patients do show dangerous symptoms following an organ transplant, doctors may need to react quickly to protect them and their health and maintain their overall quality of life. If doctors ignore patient symptoms, including writing off patient complaints or failing to properly check the healing process, it can lead to serious patient damage.
Did You Suffer Medical Malpractice After a Transplant?
If you are dealing with medical malpractice after a transplant, having an attorney on your side can make it much easier to pursue the full compensation you deserve. Contact a medical malpractice lawyer as soon after your accident as possible to learn more about your rights and how you can file a claim.