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My Loved One Passed Away During Surgery. Is This Medical Malpractice?


Surgery is always a daunting prospect. No matter how routine the procedure, it’s difficult for patients to overcome pre-op anxiety. Fortunately, the marvel of modern medicine combined with the skilled hands performing operations often mean surgeries go off without a hitch.

But in the worst-case scenario, what if one of your loved ones passes away during surgery? While all medical procedures carry their own levels of risk, you may be wondering, in your case, if medical malpractice played a role in your loved one’s death.

When you’re determining whether or not to pursue your case, you’ll need to understand a few distinctions.

Hospitals vs. Independent Doctors


When it comes to strict legality, hospitals are only legally liable for the caregivers in their employ.

You’ll have a difficult time filing a medical malpractice claim against a hospital if the surgeon responsible for your loved one’s death was, for instance, only an independent contractor at the time. However, if the physician was a hospital employee, you may have a case contingent on the hospital’s negligence—in either their hiring or management process.

And when it comes to malpractice, “negligence” is the foundation of any case.

Defining Malpractice


When a physician agrees to take on your (or your loved one’s) case, they either implicitly or explicitly agree to adhere to a certain standard of medical care.

One way of determining whether or not a physician has met the standard of care is to ask if another physician with similar skills would have provided similar treatment under similar circumstances.

It’s vital to note that this definition does not guarantee perfection in care. The most important thing it does is safeguard against negligence. And since this standard of care exists, negligence is easier to define.

For example, if your loved one underwent an operation to remove a potentially cancerous mass in their brain, and the surgeon failed to take the necessary precautions to prevent collateral brain damage—that was entirely within their power to prevent with proper pre-op preparation—then you have a textbook example of wrongful death due to medical malpractice.

This is a more egregious example of negligence, but the same principle applies across all cases of malpractice.

If your loved one’s caretaker failed to meet the standard of care via act or omission of the proper act, you’ll have to prove your loved one’s death was a direct result of the care (or lack thereof) they received. In any case, expert testimony to break down the nuances of medical malpractice can be useful.

Help from an Indiana Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Wrongful death is the last thing you should have to worry about any time someone you love undergoes any surgery. But if you or someone you know has lost a loved one due to negligent medical care, Hensley Legal Group may be able to help. Call us today or contact us online for a free conversation about your case. Our medical malpractice lawyers are here to help.