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Negligence Following Tonsillectomy Results in Brain Damage, $12.7 Million Verdict

A Pennsylvania jury this month awarded $12.7 million to a woman who suffered brain damage after her physicians prematurely removed her breathing tube at the conclusion of a routine tonsillectomy.  At the time of the procedure, the woman was a 33 year-old special education teacher.  The crux of the allegation was that the surgeon, anesthesiologist and nurse anesthetist did not properly evaluate whether the anesthesia had worn off enough for her breathing tube to safely be removed.  After the breathing tube was removed, it was alleged that the health care providers did not monitor the woman’s oxygen levels for sixteen minutes and when they finally did, it showed an oxygen lever of 81 percent, which her lawyers described as “dangerously low.”  She was re-intubated but was unresponsive and exhibiting seizure-like involuntary limb movements.

The defendants’ position was that the woman did not suffer an anoxic brain injury but instead had an abnormal reaction to the anesthesia, which could not have been foreseen.  They also argued that the woman’s symptoms were the result of a psychological conversion disorder, in support of which they pointed to her history of depression.

The jury found the anesthesiologist to be 70% responsible and the nurse to be 30% responsible.  The jury assigned no liability to the surgeon who performed the tonsillectomy.  While her short-term cognitive issues have mostly resolved, the woman continues to suffer from significant physical impairments including a foot drag and the inability to lift her right leg.  The jury’s award included $5.85 million for past and future lost wages and past and future pain and suffering.  The remainder of the verdict was for her medical care for the rest of her life expectancy.

If you or a loved one were the victim of this, or any other type of medical malpractice, call us today for a free consultation at 410-385-2225.

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