Postoperative Negligence Lawyers for Infants and Children in New Jersey
Children and babies need surgery for various reasons, sometimes urgent and other times, planned. Likewise, some conditions require major surgeries, while others are relatively minor. Although the underlying conditions that necessitate childhood medical procedures are vast and varied, all surgeries require extreme care from anesthesiologists, surgeons, pediatricians, and hospital staff. And the need for proper care does not end when the surgery is finished. In fact, doctors and medical professionals must provide attentive postoperative care, when your child is especially vulnerable, to avoid serious injuries and complications.
If you believe that your newborn or child may have a claim for injuries resulting from inadequate postoperative care, it is important to seek sound legal counsel as soon as possible. Our highly skilled pediatric negligence lawyers represent infants and children who suffer harm due to postoperative malpractice throughout New Jersey and we are here to assist you and your family in seeking just compensation. Contact us at (866)-708-8617 or fill out our convenient online form to request a free consultation. Our attorneys can answer your questions and help you explore your legal options.
Postoperative Care for a Child after Surgery
Overall, the majority of pediatric ER visits are for falls, cuts, insect or animal bites, burns, car accidents, suffocation, dehydration, and environmental injuries. Depending on the specific injury or condition, the child may require surgical intervention to successfully recover. Some operations are urgent to fix life-threatening conditions like congenital heart problems or internal injuries. In addition, catastrophic injuries and potentially life-threatening conditions may indicate the need for major surgery for your child. Similarly, premature babies often have many health issues that require surgeries and long-term aftercare. Major surgeries require an in-hospital intensive care stay and have higher risks of postoperative complications. For example, some major surgeries that can result in serious harm if a child receives inadequate post-surgery care involve:
- Removal of a brain tumor
- Repair of major organs
- Blunt trauma
- Skull, face, and spinal deformity
- Heart and intestines malfunction
- Organ transplants
- Underdeveloped respiratory, digestion, and elimination organs
On the other hand, children can also experience complications due to negligence postoperatively for minor surgeries such as:
- implanting ear tubes
- repairing hernia and bone fractures
- removing skin growth and biopsies
- elective surgery, such as circumcision and birthmark removal.
After surgery, from the operating room to home, your child needs postoperative care and depending on the type of surgery and their medical history, probably pain alleviation and wound treatment. The goal of post-op care is to bolster healing and avoid complications like infections. Postoperative care to medical caregivers means assessing, diagnosing, planning, treating, and measuring outcomes. It also means giving clear instructions about home care and information about possible complications and side effects from surgery or medications. Hospital discharge procedures typically include written instructions for at-home care, referrals to doctors, medication prescriptions, and information to promote awareness of possible complications and prevention.
Inadequate Pediatric Postoperative Care
The time spent in the hospital after a child undergoes a medical procedure depends on the length and type of surgery, the type of regional anesthesia, and the patient’s wakefulness. After surgery, pediatric patients may be sent to a post-anesthesia care unit to wait out the effects of anesthesia or to an intensive or neonatal intensive care (NICU) unit, depending on the type of surgery. The hospital recovery room is also where a pediatric patient is monitored for the effects of anesthesia, like nausea, low blood pressure, allergic reaction, and grogginess. Postoperative care here entails taking the patient’s pulse, temperature, and blood pressure; checking the wound site, drainage tubes, IV fluids, circulation, and bodily sensations; and testing lung functioning. From there, the patient moves to a room, intensive care, or admissions for discharge procedures. Pain management may begin here with local anesthetics, NSAIDS, acetaminophen, or opioids.
For outpatient surgery, your child’s breathing, urine output, and ability to drink should be assessed before discharge. For some postoperative care, they may still need an IV, an oximeter (measures oxygen blood levels), and bandages over the wound. Postoperative problems must be caught and treated early to avoid serious injury. If complications arise, your child may be admitted as an inpatient to stay in the hospital until ready for discharge. Further, infants and small children require special care after surgery, particularly since they may not understand their bodies’ sensations or be able to report complications. For infants, especially newborns, blood loss is a huge threat during surgery, and inhaled anesthesia must include higher levels of oxygen to prevent anoxia (low oxygen). Keeping a baby warm is also critical because infants and children have larger body surface areas and higher metabolic needs than adults. As such, surgeons operating on infants, newborns, and premature babies, must recognize post-surgery signs of complications, such as infection, temperature drops, blood loss, and oxygen depletion. Signs of infection include fever, increased pain, and bleeding.
Failure to Recognize Postoperative Complications
The surgical team must work together to recognize trouble signs unique to infants and children postoperatively, as failure to do so can lead to catastrophic consequences. Some of the most commonly missed postoperative complications affecting infants and children include:
- Breathing problems
- Elimination difficulties
- Allergic reactions to anesthesia.
If complications or symptoms of an adverse reaction go unnoticed or unaddressed, your child may be deprived of the critical care they need to recover. For example, a child suffering from complications after a medical procedure may need respiratory devices, a heart monitor, and tubes for breathing, feeding, or urinating. Shock is a reaction to low blood pressure and is treated by stemming blood loss, freeing airways, and keeping the patient warm and flat, filled with intravenous fluid, medications, blood, or oxygen. Bleeding at the wound site or internally often leads to shock, in which case treatment may consist of saline or plasma infusions, blood transfusion, stitches, or cauterization (heated repair of broken blood vessels).
Infection from the wound may require antibiotics, drainage, and frequent bandage changes to avoid spreading the infection and life-threatening sepsis. Deep breathing can help clear lungs and congestion for breathing difficulties, and urinary elimination difficulties may be treated with a catheter for drainage. Failure to identify any of these possible signs of a medical problem following pediatric surgery may constitute negligence, providing your child with grounds for a lawsuit.
New Jersey Pediatric Postoperative Malpractice Lawyer can Help
When the surgical team fails to recognize, prevent, or treat postoperative complications in a timely manner, your child may suffer extreme and permanent harm. Some complications leave lifelong injuries, requiring extensive treatment, long-term management, and amounting to heavy medical bills. If your child was injured due to postoperative negligence in New Jersey, a pediatric malpractice lawyer can tell you more about legal remedies to seek recovery for the costs of your child’s injuries, as well as the pain and suffering thrust upon you and your family. For a free consultation, call (866)-708-8617 today.
- After Surgery: Discomforts and Complications, Stanford Children’s Health
- Postoperative analgesia in infants and children, BJA: British Journal of Anaesthesia
- Your Child’s Recovery After Surgery, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia