Medical malpractice happens more often than you think in our nation’s hospitals and clinics. The most common type of organ transplant malpractice involves a patient who has received an organ transplant.
Organ transplant involves organ donation. It’s when someone decides to donate their organs for someone else’s use. After death, the deceased’s family will permit doctors to harvest some of their loved one’s vital organs, such as kidneys, livers, hearts, pancreas, lungs, and other vital organs.
What is Organ Transplant?
Organ transplant procedures are performed to remove an organ from one body and place it in the recipient’s body. The most common procedures performed by a medical surgeon are kidney transplants, heart, liver, and lungs.
The procedure involves:
A transplant center evaluates to see if you are eligible for the procedure.
A thorough examination of your medical records to determine whether or not you have any diseases that may make your immune system reject the donated organ.
Extensive physical examination, including blood tests and chest X-rays by a reasonably careful physician.
If you are cleared to go by these evaluations, your name will go on a waiting list until a matching donor is available.
What is Transplant Malpractice?
Transplant medical malpractice occurs when a health care professional fails to provide the standard of care for a patient undergoing an organ transplant procedure. The five most common issues in transplant surgery malpractice are:
1. Wrong Patient Surgery
Wrong patient surgery can happen when two patients have similar names or the patient’s identity is not correctly verified. To avoid this, doctors should verify that they have the correct surgical site marked on their patient. They need to double-check for any other potential mismatches before proceeding with surgery.
In addition, doctors should always know their patient’s medical history and medications to ensure that they don’t use anything that could be potentially harmful to their new organ recipient.
Lastly, hospitals should do everything possible to keep all staff current with who is scheduled for surgeries. Errors of this type can occur when nurses incorrectly enter the wrong information into hospital computers.
2. Mistaken Diagnosis
A mistaken diagnosis happens when the transplant team fails to properly evaluate the patient’s condition and make an accurate diagnosis. It can lead to the wrong organ being transplanted or the patient not receiving the necessary care.
It is essential for the transplant team to carefully review the patient’s history and perform physical exams before making any decisions about which organs should be removed.
If there is doubt that the transplant was done correctly, the surgical team must seek a second opinion from another doctor who has experience with similar cases. The importance of taking time to diagnose accurately cannot be overstated. A single misdiagnosis could result in death or severe injury for your loved one.
3. Failure to Match Organs With Recipients
When blood or tissue types are mismatched, it can lead to organ rejection or other complications. The most common cause of mismatching is if the donor and recipient have different blood types (ABO incompatibility). If the transplanted organ is incompatible, it cannot be transplanted successfully.
Incompatibility may also come from human leukocyte antigen (HLA) mismatch, which can occur when the patient and donor are from different ethnic backgrounds.
Another incompatibility is differences in viral antibodies that lead to graft-versus-host disease (GVHD).
Finally, the fourth type of incompatibility happens when the patient has pre-existing antibodies that react with antigens on the donor organ.
4. Receiving an Infected Organ
Receiving an organ that is infected may occur when the organ donor was not adequately screened or when the organ was not properly sanitized before the transplant. Infected organs can cause serious health complications and even death. To avoid this, make sure you only receive organs from reputable sources.
5. Infection Risks
Infection is one of the most common surgical risks, especially for organ transplants. The immune system is already compromised, making it harder for the body to fight off infections. However, there are several ways to reduce the risk of infection, including using antibiotics before and after surgery and taking steps to clean the surgical site.
Reasons Why the Malpractices Are Common
There are several possible reasons why these malpractices are so common.
The patients are not always healthy when they come in for surgery. This can lead to complications during the surgery.
Doctors and surgeons can be overworked and tired, which can lead to mistakes being made.
There can be communication problems between the different surgical team members, which can lead to errors.
Sometimes the wrong organ is transplanted into the patient.
Not all doctors get adequate training in organ transplantation, so they lack experience and expertise.
Sometimes the organs are not compatible with each other, and this can cause problems for the patient.
There may be too many patients to see, and the doctor doesn’t have enough time to spend with each patient.
Ethical Issues Related to Organ Transplants
One of the most controversial ethical issues related to organ transplants is the definition of death. Organs can only be transplanted if they are healthy and viable. So, there is often a race against time to harvest organs from brain-dead patients who are still on life support. It raises questions about when it is appropriate to remove life support and how to allocate organs fairly.
There is also concern about exploiting vulnerable populations, such as prisoners or the poor, who may be coerced into donating organs. This violates human rights laws. With new techniques such as 3D printing, there are more options for obtaining organs ethically with no chance of coercion.
However, many people remain unwilling to donate their organs after death because they fear medical staff will not care for them well enough during their illness; this reluctance could prevent others from receiving life-saving transplants.
If you or someone you know is seeking help in a medical malpractice case, don’t hesitate to contact J.P. Ward Associates.
We highly value the attorney-client relationship, so rest assured that we will provide sound legal advice to determine if you have grounds for a lawsuit.
Call us at (412) 426-4878 to speak to one of our legal representatives.