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Heart Surgery – Malpractice

A jury in a medical malpractice case returned a jury verdict of $9.9 million last week to a Kentucky woman who suffered severe injuries and damages after routine heart surgery. The woman had surgery on her mitral valve in her heart in April 2006. The surgery took less than an hour and was successful. However, during the sugery, the surgeon allegedly misplaced the cannula, or hose, for a machine that pumps blood during the surgery. The woman claimed during the trial that the misplacement caused too much blood and oxygen to be pumped to her right hand and too little to her brain and spinal cord, causing her to no longer be able to walk due to paraplegia and to suffer mild to moderate brain damage.

The jury awarded the woman $455,229.06 in past medical experiences, $4,426,408.72 for future medical bills, $482,538 in lost wages and $4.5 million for pain and suffering. The total verdict was $9,864,175.78. The jury found that the anesthesiologist was responsible for 23 percent of the fault, and the perfusionist, the person who operates the heart-lung machine, was responsible for 41 percent of fault. Since the hospital defendant had already settled with the patient and did not participate in the trial, the verdict only will affect the surgeon. The jury assigned 31 percent of fault to the surgeon, or $3,057,894.49 of the total damages sought. Unless overturned during post-trial motions or on appeal, that portion of the verdict will be paid by the surgeon’s insurance company. A copy of an article regarding the case can be found here.

It is highly unusual for routine heart surgery to result in injuries like this. I have successfully handled a number of medical negligence cases in Baltimore and other counties in Maryland involving a failure to properly perform surgery, causing severe injuries and damages. Some of these medical malpractice cases have involved brain surgery, shoulder surgery, lung surgery, heart surgery, gallbladder surgery, colon surgery, etc. Its always tragic when a person suffers life-long injuries due to someone else’s medical mistake.

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