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Put your affairs in order before elective surgery

by Allan Bisset

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As a serious injury lawyer, Paul Ashurst knows that even normal day to day activities can end in accidents that have devastating consequences for both individuals and their families.

So when it comes to any elective surgical procedure he is aware that most people do think about the risks, which even with the best surgeons and facilities can never be entirely eliminated. He knows most people tend to ignore the possible consequences that can follow if something does go wrong. Without wishing to seem too morbid, Paul suggests they should:

“When you are thinking about a non-essential procedure, such as elective cosmetic surgery, I know the last thing on your mind will be complications that could arise for you or your family if ‘things should go wrong’, but lawyers by training have to consider adverse outcomes that may affect their clients.”

The possibility of injury or worse due to medical negligence during the surgery itself or in your post operative care exists. Serious and potentially life threatening complications can occur if you experience a reaction to anaesthesia. Even if your surgery does go according to plan, you may have to stay in hospital longer than anticipated in order to complete a recovery. All surgery, whether elective or absolutely necessary, ultimately carries a risk of death. Obviously, surgery that requires stopping the heart will have a higher risk than an operation to remove tonsils, but both can still result in death or very serious injury.

That’s why, if you do decide to proceed with any operation, Paul maintains that it is prudent to look at making sure your affairs are in order first. That could include making a will in the worst case scenario, because without one the intestacy rules dictate how your property and money is distributed. The people you may have wanted your possessions or money to go to might get nothing at all.

It may also be advisable to look into powers of attorney so that someone you know and trust can look after your affairs in the event that post surgical complications mean you may temporarily or permanently lose the mental capacity to make those decisions yourself.

Those two measures are also crucially important if you rent property as a landlord. Should you be out of action for several months, unless you use a managing agent, authority to manage your rental portfolio could be granted under the lasting power of attorney and responsibilities devolved to executors in a will.

Paul concludes: “Any risk can certainly be minimised if surgery is carried out by a surgeon who performs the operation regularly in a facility that is familiar with both the surgeon and the procedure, but the chance (however remote) of things going wrong is always there. Knowing that you’ve planned for any eventuality, however unlikely, takes very little time and will give you peace of mind.”

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