Earlier this year, a Detroit jury awarded $21 million to the family of a woman who died following a brain surgery that she was never supposed to undergo. A copy of the article regarding the case can be found here. The 81 year-old presented to the hospital in January of 2012 for treatment of her bilateral jaw displacement (dislocated jaw). Unfortunately, upon her admission, hospital staff mixed up her CT Scan results with those of another patient, causing the doctors to believe that this woman had bleeding on her brain requiring emergency surgery.
Doctors immediately took her to the operating room where they drilled five holes into her head and remove the right side of her skull. Upon surgically reaching the woman’s brain, no bleed was found. Because of the woman’s age and health, she was unable to recover from the brain surgery and died after 60 days on life support. There also was an allegation in the lawsuit that the hospital attempted to cover up its mistake. The plaintiffs’ attorney was quoted in the article as saying that this procedure was “something that can be done in a dentist chair [but that] instead they took off the right side of her head, and killed her.” Interestingly, the jury at one point during deliberations sent a note to the judge asking whether they could demand that the hospital apologize for its “wrongful and outrageous conduct.” The hospital vowed to appeal.
The unfortunate lesson to be learned from this case is that these types of medical errors can happen to anyone. If you or a loved one were the victim of a medical mistake – whether it is obvious such as this one or subtle – give us a call for a free consultation at 410-385-2225.