On October 27, 2016, after about three hours of deliberations, a Pennsylvania medical malpractice jury awarded a Pennsylvania woman $12.7 million in compensatory damages for the brain damage she suffered as a result of the defendants allegedly removing her breathing tube too early shortly after her tonsillectomy, resulting in brain damage that has left her with severe foot drag and the inability to lift her right leg, along with balance problems and decreased function in her right arm. The woman is able to walk, with difficulty, but cannot drive. Her short-term cognitive issues resolved before trial.
The 33-year-old special education teacher’s Pennsylvania medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that her successful 14-minute tonsillectomy procedure resulted in her catastrophic injuries after her breathing tube was removed too early, before the effects of her anesthesia wore off, after which her oxygen level was not monitored for 16 minutes until she was brought to the post-op critical care unit, where her oxygen level was 81%. She was disoriented and unresponsive to questions in the CCU, and she was re-intubated at that time.
The Pennsylvania medical malpractice lawsuit named as defendants her surgeon, the anesthesiologist, a nurse, the employer of the anesthesiologist, and the hospital where the surgery took place. The Pennsylvania medical malpractice jury determined that the defendant surgeon was 70% liable and the defendant nurse anesthesiologist was 30% liable to the plaintiff for her injuries, and the jury awarded the plaintiff $12.7 million in compensatory damages, which included approximately $5.85 million for the woman’s past and future lost earnings and her past and future non-economic damages, and just under $7 million for her life care plan that extended through 2057.
The woman has been able to return to work as an aid in the classroom where she used to be the teacher (the school could not make the necessary accommodations for the woman to return to work as a teacher). She must rely on her mother and her brother to assist her with her activities of daily living.
The Pennsylvania medical malpractice defendants made no settlement offer before the jury’s verdict.
Pursuant to the provisions of Pennsylvania’s Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Fund (MCARE), if the medical malpractice defendants choose to fund the plaintiff’s life care plan with a lump-sum payment to be used to purchase an annuity that will pay the full value of the life care plan over its span, the cost to the defendants will be approximately $2.5 million.
The defendants’ lawyers argued to the jury that the woman did not suffer an anoxic brain injury (there was no evidence of such on scans), as alleged by the plaintiff, but rather suffered an unusual reaction to anesthesia and that the plaintiff’s pre-existing depression and a psychological conversion disorder were causing her symptoms.
If you or a loved were harmed as a result of surgery in the United States, you should promptly consult with a local medical malpractice attorney in your U.S. state who may investigate your surgery malpractice claim for you and file a surgical medical malpractice case on your behalf, if appropriate.
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