Hernias are very common, especially among people who are overweight or elderly. They may occur as a result of surgery or even exercise that is too strenuous. While hernia surgery is one of the most common types of surgeries that are performed on patients, experienced doctors and surgeons may still make mistakes. If an individual has been a victim of malpractice, he or she may be able to receive compensation for losses, such as medical bills and for pain and suffering.
To understand how malpractice can happen while repairing a hernia, it is important first to understand more about hernias and the different types that exist.
What Is a Hernia?
When a person’s organ or some of the fatty tissue pushes out through a weak spot in a muscle or surrounding tissue, a hernia will form. There are five main types of hernias that patients may experience.
- Hiatal Hernia: This type of hernia most often happens in the stomach area, and it occurs when the stomach protrudes through the hiatus. The hiatus is an opening in the diaphragm where the esophagus goes through.
- Inguinal Hernia: This is the type of hernia that forms in the groin or genital areas. It forms when the bladder or intestine pushes into the groin area.
- Incisional Hernia: This type of hernia forms after an incision has been made around the surrounding area. This type of hernia most often affects older people after surgery, although it can also happen after a woman has given birth via Cesarean section.
- Umbilical Hernia: This occurs when a part of the small intestine goes into the abdominal wall. This type of hernia is usually located around the naval area.
- Abdominal or Ventra Hernia: This type of hernia usually forms in the abdominal wall of the stomach. It may occur when an intestine pushes in.
Hernias are caused when there is either a weakness or an opening in the muscle. Pressure in the area can trigger a hernia to form. For example, heavy lifting, straining during constipation, surgery, or excessive sneezing and coughing can all be forms of pressure that can cause a hernia. Even though these types of activities can cause a hernia, a patient often will not notice there is a hernia until a year to two years later, when painful symptoms occur.
The patient may notice the hernia when doing activities such as strenuous exercise or work. People who have hernias will notice symptoms such as pain over a long period that worsens, sharp pain, or a protrusion that is growing larger. Chronic pain in the area of the hernia is a common symptom.
Sometimes a patient will not need to have the hernia fixed because it will not cause these symptoms. However, in most cases, a hernia will need medical attention. The only way to fix a hernia is through hernia surgery.
Hernia Repair Surgery
Surgery to repair a hernia is one of the most common types of surgeries that are performed. The surgical procedure for a hernia involves placing the protruding tissues or organs back to their original places and closing the hole that they came through. There are two types of surgeries to do this. They are herniorrhaphy surgery and hernioplasty surgery.
This was the first type of hernia surgery to be used, and it is still a common way to fix hernias today. The surgeon will make an incision over the hernia and open it using surgical tools. This allows the surgeon to access the problem area and push the protruding tissue or organ back in place. Then, the surgeon will remove the hernia sac and stitch closed the opening that the hernia came through. The surgeon can then stitch the entire wound closed.
In a hernia mesh surgery, the surgeon will make an incision over the hernia and push the protruding organ or tissue back in place. However, instead of stitching the hernia opening closed, the surgeon will place a mesh over the area. This mesh is usually made of flexible plastic. The surgeon will stitch this mesh to the surrounding tissues. This can provide support for other weak, damaged tissues around the hernia as they grow and recover. This type of surgery is also known as a tension-free hernia repair.
Choosing the Surgery
Both types of hernia surgeries can be done either laparoscopically or through a larger cut. The type of hernia will determine the type of surgery the surgeon will use to fix the hernia. Regardless of their locations, hernias can be classified in three ways:
- Strangulated Hernia: This type of hernia happens when the protruding organ or tissue blood supply is cut off because it is stuck inside the hernia.
- Irreducible Hernia: If the protruding tissue or organ cannot be pushed back in its hole, it is considered incarcerated or irreducible.
- Reducible Hernia: If the protruding tissue or organ can be pushed back into its hole, it is considered reducible.
Potential Complications from Hernia Surgery
It is normal for patients to experience some noticeable effects after this surgery. Patients may notice that the site of the incision is swollen or red. The patient will also find that the site of the surgery is painful to touch and may even cause pain when the patient is not moving. These effects are normal and are not a result of medical malpractice.
However, there are a few surgical errors that may lead to symptoms in an individual that will require further medical treatment:
- Nerve Entrapment
- Injuries to the Intestines
- Infection Around the Surgical Site
- Obstruction in the Bowels
- Return of the Hernia
- Obstruction in the Intestines
Unfortunately, some individuals experiencing a botched hernia repair may not show symptoms of this until years later. The good news is that people who are victims of malpractice in hernia surgeries may be able to make malpractice claims to receive compensation for their additional medical bills.
Was It Medical Malpractice?
Sometimes, even with the best doctors and nurses in the best medical facilities, a patient’s body will not have the expected results of the surgery. This could be due to the nature of the hernia or other underlying medical conditions. However, there are a few signs that a hernia repair surgery was malpractice and that the patient can bring a lawsuit against a health care provider.
- Failure to Properly Diagnose the Condition – If the doctor did not diagnose the patient’s condition properly the first time, the patient might experience missed opportunities for treatment.
- Delayed Diagnosis of a Perforation in the Intestines – A botched surgery to repair a hernia can result in perforation in the intestines. These holes in the intestines may not cause symptoms in the patient until after the hernia repair has taken place.
- Prescribing the Wrong Medication – One example of malpractice is when the medical professional prescribes the wrong medication or the wrong amount of medication to the patient.
- Failure to Prescribe the Correct Hernia Mesh – There are several types of meshes to help repair hernias, and the right one will depend on the type of hernia the patient has. Using the wrong type of mesh can result in a serious personal injury.
- Leaving a Foreign Object Inside the Patient: Anything a surgeon leaves inside a patient that does not belong is considered medical negligence.
If any of these conditions apply to an individual, the patient or his or her loved one may have a case for a medical malpractice lawsuit. It is important for individuals to try to determine if the problem lies with the medical facility and staff or with the manufacturer of the hernia mesh. This will help individuals settle their cases faster.
Medical Malpractice Cases
Several factors will affect how much an individual can expect to get from his or her malpractice case:
- How Much the Medical Bills Totaled
- Lost Wages from Not Working
- Pain and Suffering
In 2017, there were several claims against manufacturers who made meshes to repair hernias. While these cases are still in the courts, similar cases in the past have settled for millions of dollars. Working with the right law firm can help individuals get the highest compensation possible.
Even though surgery to repair a hernia is one of the most common types of surgeries performed, doctors, nurses, and surgeons can still make mistakes. The good news is that individuals can often get their additional medical bills taken care of through a malpractice case. It is important for individuals who believe they are victims of malpractice to speak with medical malpractice attorneys. A free consultation is the first step toward getting compensation for a hernia repair surgery that was performed improperly.