Many Medical Procedures Come With Significant Risks
There are many medical procedures, largely surgeries, that come with significant risks. According to UCLA Health, surgeons and other healthcare providers often classify surgical procedures by their level of risk, known as risk stratification. In other words, certain surgical procedures are riskier than others due to the possibility of blood loss, fluid shifts, and other issues that may come with the procedure. Elective surgeries, such as facial reconstructive surgeries, can have risks like scarring and other unwanted consequences.
In some cases, certain patients are at higher risk of infection or complications after a medical procedure due to pre-existing conditions. Common conditions like hypertension may place a patient at slightly higher risk of complications, while other conditions like COPD can place a patient at very high risk of complications.
Injuries After a Risky Procedure are Not Necessarily the Result of Medical Negligence
To be clear, depending upon the specific procedure and the patient, a procedure may come with particular risks that are not avoidable even if a healthcare provider takes all reasonable precautions. Accordingly, in some of these situations where a risky procedure results in undesired consequences, a patient may not necessarily have a malpractice case.
To have a valid malpractice claim, New Mexico medical malpractice law requires a patient to be able to show that her injury resulted from a healthcare provider’s negligence, or a breach of the duty of care owed to the patient. Generally speaking, a doctor breaches the duty of care when that doctor does not act as a reasonable physician in the same field and within the same geographic area would have.
Did Your Doctor Explain the Risks, and Did You Agree to the Risks?
Even if a procedure comes with risks and a patient suffers an injury despite the doctor’s excellent care, that patient still may be able to file a claim if the doctor failed to inform the patient about the risks.
When a medical procedure comes with certain risks of harm, the healthcare provider must inform the patient about those risks, and the patient must make an informed decision to assume those risks when moving forward with the medical procedure. If the patient is not properly informed before accepting the risks, or does not assume the risks associated with the procedure, a healthcare provider may be liable for injuries.