Articles Posted in Surgery Malpractice

A Frederick County jury has awarded almost $1.37 million to a woman who suffers severe and chronic leg pain and must take a blood thinner each day, after a diagnostic test left her with vascular injuries. The jury found that a doctor negligently performed a laparoscopy to determine the cause of the woman’s ovarian or abdominal soreness, and that he lacerated blood vessels. The lacerations led to emergency surgery which stopped the bleeding, but the incident left her with a deep vein thrombosis, or blood clot, in her leg and the possibility of more clots. The plaintiff alleged that the doctor violated the standard of care by performing the procedure without proper visualization, using excessive force and failing to take proper precautions to avoid cutting blood vessels.

The pain and suffering portion of the verdict, which included more than $315,000 for loss of consortium, accounted for about $1.2 million of the jury’s award. That figure will be reduced by about 45 percent to $650,000, the cap that was in place when the claim arose. The jury also awarded $156,915.01 in economic damages, of which $83,004.16 is for future medical expenses, $65,186.77 is for prior medical costs and $8,724.08 is for lost wages.

I successfully handled many medical malpractice cases just like this in Baltimore and other counties in Maryland. Many of these cases have been surgical cases just like this, where the allegation is that the doctor did not perform surgery properly.

As an experienced Baltimore, Maryland medical malpractice lawyer, I am frequently asked to comment on malpractice cases from around the county. Recently, a Rhode Island jury awarded a former truck driver $4 million in an orthopedic negligence case. The man filed suit in 2002 alleging that the doctor negligently performed surgery on his hand by slicing a nerve. This allegedly caused his hand to hurt, change color and temperature, and sweat. He eventually was diagnosed with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome, a chronic neurological disorder that causes severe pain. His hand since has become claw-like, and continues to have pain. As a result, he has become addicted to pain medication and relies on drugs to fall asleep each night. A copy of an article regarding the case can be found here.

This was a major verdict in a difficult case. While it would have been easy to show the jury the disfigured hand, juries sometimes have difficulty understanding Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, which is a chronic pain syndrome. The defense usually claims the person is exaggerating, and juries have difficulty grasping that a limb that may look ok is causing severe pain. Brining is experts to explain RSD to the jury is key.

I have handled a large number of medical malpractice cases in Baltimore, Maryland and other places involving surgical mistakes. Sometimes the mistakes are discovered right after surgery and others times it take months or years to discover. Usually, the client is told that the surgery will solve their problem, but the surgery ends up making it worse. Some of the cases I have handled have involved medical malpractice due to the failure to properly perform brain surgery, failure to properly perform back or spinal surgery, failure to properly perform gallbladder surgery, failure to properly perform lung surgery, failure to properly perform bariatric surgery (also known as stomach stapling), etc. To see some of the cases I have handled, click here .

A Los Angeles County woman may receive more than $1.6 million to settle a malpractice lawsuit she brought against the county after being paralyzed during back surgery at a Los Angeles medical center. The L.A. county Claims Board is prepared to discuss the proposed medical malpractice settlement with legal counsel behind closed doors. If they give their go-ahead, the matter will then go before the county Board of Supervisors for final approval.

The lawsuit was brought by a woman who had two vertebrae fractured in a car accident in 2005. During surgery at the hospital, the woman, who was 20 years old at the time, was paralyzed. In her lawsuit, the woman claimed that no one explained the risks of the procedure to her and that the hospital’s staff failed to provide her with the necessary care. Although the medical center took the position that she received proper care, the settlement was proposed to avoid a potentially risky jury trial.

Under the terms of the proposed settlement, the county would pay $1.5 million to the woman and assume medical bills totaling $112,999. The county has already paid more than $217,000 in attorney fees in the case. A copy of an article regarding the case can be found here.

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.

A Michigan husband and wife have been awarded almost $1.2 million by a jury in a medical malpractice lawsuit filed against a local doctor. The jury decided late last week after a two-day trial that the doctor was negligent regarding hernia surgery he performed in June, 2003. During the procedure, the man’s small bowel was nicked but the injury was not repaired at the time, causing him to have a septic reaction that included an long hospital stay. As part of the treatment for the nicked bowel, the man incurred several hundred thousand dollars of medical bills. The surgeon denied any negligence, saying that the patient knew of and appreciated risks and hazards involved in the medical treatment. The man’s wife was awarded $50,544 for being deprived the comfort, companionship, society, and services of her husband. A copy of the article regarding the case can be found here.

I have successfully handled a number of medical negligence / medical error cases in Baltimore and other counties in Maryland, and the District of Columbia, involving surgical malpractice. In this case, the malpractice probably was not causing the injury to the bowel, as that can happen during abdominal surgery. The problem here was the failure to timely diagnose (recognize) and treat the injury once it occurred. Before finishing up the hernia surgery, the surgeon should have checked to make sure that there was no unintended injury to organs including the bowel, found the injury and then repaired it. By not timely recognizing and repairing it, the man developed a severe abdominal infection, which progressed to sepsis, which is when the infection spreads through the blood to the rest of the body. Once the patient came out of surgery and exhibited signs and symptoms of an infection – usually abdominal pain, swelling, bloating, hardness of the abdomen – surgeon should returned the patient to surgery as soon as possible to stop the leak, wash out the abdomen and start the patient on antibiotics. These cases are tragic b/c someone goes in for a routine procedure and should be back on their feet in a few days, but ends up a long hospitalization, extensive medical care and problems that can last a lifetime.

I have successfully handled a number of medical malpractice cases involving doctors (surgeons usually) injuring an artery or vein during a surgical procedure. For example, in one severe injury case, a spinal / orthopedic surgeon was installing hardware on the cervical spine of a woman who had cervical disk (disc) disease, when he hit an artery with a drill and caused the woman to have a severe stroke. The storke caused the woman to have a lifetime of medical and other care expenses as a result of the surgeon’s negligence.

In another case, a woman who had a long history of peripheral vascular disease underwent a bypass of the blood vessells of her lower leg, called a fem-pop (femoral to popliteal) bypass. After the surgery, the woman complained to her doctor of excessive bleeding from the surgical wound site. The surgeon negligently said not to worry about it, and told the woman that if she kept on bleeding she should put her finger on the wound to stop the bleeding. Unfortunately, when the woman went to sleep that night, the wound really opened up and she bled profusely. She woke up covered in blood and screaming, causing her family to rush to her rescue. Unfortunately, she could not reach medical treatment in time and bled to death (exsanguinated).

A New Jersey doctor’s medical license has just been suspended after regulators determined that he performed the wrong surgery on a patient, by removing the wrong lung, then tried to cover up the error. The New Jersey Board found Dr. Santusht Perera removed a portion of the patient’s right lung when he should have been removing a tumor in the left lung. According to the Board, the surgeon then told the patient that the right lung contained a life-threatening tumor, though there was no such growth. He also altered the patient’s records to show he intended to operate on the right lung. The board determined that Perera’s actions constituted gross negligence. A copy of the article regarding the case can be found here.

While most medical care is good, sadly there are significant number of doctors and hospital staff who commit serious medical malpractice / medical mistakes each day. In the case above, the patient’s healthy lung was removed while the cancerous lung was left unaltered. As if that is not bad enough, the doctor then tried to cover up his mistake. Like in this case, the doctor usually gets caught.

Unfortunately, I have been involved in a number of cases in which doctors and hospital personnel in the Baltimore, Maryland and Washington area have tried to cover up their medical malpractice / medical negligence / medical mistakes by changing or altering medical records. Surprisingly, it is not always hard to catch these people. After having reviewed hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of medical malpractice cases, I know what to look for in a medical chart, both in terms of what should be in there and what should not be in there. We also have the experience and resources to have a forensic document examiner test a document to determine whether there is anything unusual about the document.

A Rhode Island man has been awarded $2 million due to allegations that he suffered brain damage because he did not receive proper care during open heart surgery at a Rhode Island hospital. The man alleged in his lawsuit that he got low amounts of oxygen to his brain during the 1998 operation.

These type of medcial malpractice cases can be catastrophic becuase of their severe and long-term consequences. As an attorney in Baltimore, I am frequently called upon to evalute whether there has been medical malpratice at two of the leading hospitals in the region, Johns Hopkins Hospital and the University of Maryland Medical System. They frequently perform some of the most cutting edge procedures known in medicine, including open heart surgery. Yet sometimes, these procedures have catastrophic results due to medical malpractice. When that happens, we investigate and pursue medical malpractice cases against Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland Medical System. Over the years, we generally have been very successful in these cases.

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