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Nicked Artery During Tonsillectomy: Is It Malpractice?

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Imagine your loved one needs a tonsillectomy. During surgery, the surgeon nicked your loved one’s artery and quickly sutured it shut. Your loved one goes home after the surgery. The next day the nicked vein ruptures and you rush to the emergency room. Your loved one suddenly passes away. Do you have a medical malpractice claim?

Hemorrhaging after a tonsillectomy is fairly common. Arteries run very close to the surgery site and a tonsillectomy is traumatic for the surrounding tissue. Bleeding after a tonsillectomy may not be a sign of medical malpractice, but if the surgeon did not seal the nicked artery correctly, or if medical staff did not treat the hemorrhage, then you may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim.

Acceptable Risk During Surgery

Medical malpractice means a healthcare professional’s actions did not meet the standard of care due to patients in the same situation, and those actions caused a patient to suffer harm. Healthcare professionals can meet the standard of care by asking if another healthcare professional with a similar skillset would have provided similar treatment under similar circumstances. It is important to note that the standard of care does not mean perfection. Rather, it is a safeguard against negligence.

Healthcare professionals perform high-risk surgeries every day, and even common surgeries come with accepted risks. One risk is excessive bleeding or injury to other organs, including blood vessels. During a tonsillectomy the doctor will burn or cut away the tonsils, which may lead to accidentally cutting an artery. To close the nicked artery, the doctor may suture or cauterize the torn arterial wall.

A nicked artery alone may not be grounds for a medical malpractice case. But if the surgeon did not close the wound or if they left it to clot rather than stitch or cauterize the wound, then they may have committed malpractice. An Indiana medical malpractice attorney can help determine whether you have a medical malpractice claim.

Hemorrhaging After a Tonsillectomy

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Post-tonsillectomy hemorrhage is considered a medical emergency. If you suspect bleeding after tonsillectomy, or if your loved one is coughing or spitting blood, take them to the emergency room.

Hemorrhage is more likely to occur within 24 hours of the tonsillectomy, but could also happen after a few days post-op. Children under 5 years old and patients who are more at risk for post-surgery bleeding may be kept overnight for observation.

A patient may need immediate surgery to cauterize the wound depending on their age and how much blood they are losing. It is up to emergency room staff to keep the patient in an upright position and to monitor the surgery site for active bleeding.

Time is of the essence after a hemorrhage. If your loved one suffered harm or died because of post-surgical hemorrhage, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim if negligence led to their suffering. As always if you are in doubt, consult with a medical malpractice lawyer. They have experience dealing with malpractice cases and will be able to guide you through the filing process if warranted.

Who Is Responsible?


If you do decide to pursue legal action, you may file a malpractice suit against multiple parties. In some cases you could sue the hospital, in others you may sue the physician.

Many healthcare professionals are not actually employees of the hospital where you had the procedure. If the negligent doctor is an independent contractor, you would not be able to sue the hospital for medical malpractice. Instead you would file a claim with the doctor’s insurance. If they were an employee of the hospital, then you could sue the hospital itself for hiring or improper management of the healthcare worker.

Filing a medical malpractice claim is a complicated process with plenty of loopholes and deadlines you may not be equipped to deal with, especially if you are recovering from an injury or losing a loved one. That’s where an Indiana medical malpractice attorney can help. They know how to file a claim and with whom to file it, and can get everything started before the statute of limitations runs. They can gather evidence from everyone who assisted on the surgery to prove whether or not the surgeon was negligent. And if you are suing on behalf of a loved one who passed away because of negligence, the malpractice lawyer can also explain which damages you are entitled to recover.

Help from an Indiana Medical Malpractice Lawyer

A tonsillectomy is a fairly common procedure, but severe injury or death from a tonsillectomy is not. If a physician or surgeon failed to provide proper care for you or a loved one, you may be able to file a medical malpractice case. It’s time to consult with medical malpractice attorneys who can help. Give Hensley Legal Group a call or chat with us online for a free consultation. We’re here for you during this difficult time.