Surgical errors cause brain injury, family awarded $1.23 million

Posted on behalf of Stewart Bell, PLLC on Apr 12, 2012 in Medical Malpractice

It can be very difficult for plaintiffs to prevail in a medical malpractice case. How difficult? In 2005, the U.S. Department of Justice's statistical bureau studied medical malpractice trials nationwide and found that plaintiffs prevailed less than 25 percent of the time. Unfortunately, the percentage would be much lower if every plaintiff who couldn't overcome the barriers erected to keep them out of court were counted too.

Last week, a jury awarded the family of a 66-year-old woman who died because she did not receive sufficient oxygen during a surgical procedure approximately $1.23 million in combined economic and non-economic damages. The family also received some much needed answers about what happened that day and why.

Court records indicate that the surgery took place in August 2008 and involved a routine removal of thyroid and parathyroid glands in the woman's neck. Efforts to revive the woman after the operation were unsuccessful, however, and she had to be placed on life support. Subsequent tests revealed that the woman was suffering from the effects of a brain injury caused by a lack of oxygen during the surgery.

Eleven days after the procedure, the woman's family made the difficult decision to remove her from life support. An autopsy performed three days later provided no indication that anything other than brain injury caused the woman's condition.

The original lawsuit named the anesthesiologist, his medical practice group and the hospital where the surgery took place as defendants. The hospital was later dismissed as a defendant in the medical malpractice lawsuit and is unaffected by the jury's finding that the anesthesiologist was negligent and that his negligence was the legal cause of the woman's death.

A lawyer for the defendants indicated it may take days or weeks to determine whether to appeal the verdict.

Source: The Kalamazoo Gazette, "Lawton family awarded $1.23 million by Kalamazoo jury in medical malpractice lawsuit," Lynn Turner, Apr. 3, 2012

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