On January 23, 2019, a Virginia medical malpractice jury returned its verdict in favor of the plaintiff in a Virginia medical malpractice wrongful death case in the amount of $3.4 million against one of the defendant doctors. After two and a half weeks of trial, the jury awarded $385,451 for expenses for care, treatment and hospitalization of the decedent, $16,000 for reasonable funeral expenses, and $3,000,000 for noneconomic damages.
The Virginia medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit involved a 28-year-old obese patient who had undergone lap band gastric bypass surgery in 2009, and suffered a slipped lap band in 2015. He had gone to the emergency room in February 2015 with complaints of nausea, stomach pain, and difficulty swallowing. A CT scan revealed that the lap band had slipped and that he had a herniated stomach and a massively dilated esophagus. He was scheduled for surgery two days later.
During the administration of anesthesia in preparation for the surgery, the man vomited a large amount of gastric content and aspirated. Despite such, the surgeon proceeded with the surgery, which had to be stopped in mid-procedure so that the man could be transferred to ICU in order to have a bronchoscopy. The bronchoscopy revealed that the man had aspirated gastric content into his trachea, airway, and his lungs.
The man never awoke after the procedure. He was placed on a ventilator for over a month before his parents made the difficult decision to disconnect him from life support.
The plaintiff’s Virginia medical malpractice lawyer argued that the defendant doctors had breached the standard of care by failing to empty the man’s stomach contents and esophagus before surgery, and that they further breached the standard of care by failing to stop the surgical procedure once the man began vomiting.
The defense argued that the standard of care did not require the placement of a nasogastric tube when inducing rapid-sequence induction (i.e., where a sedative and muscle relaxer are administered at the same time), and argued to the jury that what the man suffered was such a unusual occurrence from which all those involved in his surgery thought he should have recovered.
The Virginia medical malpractice wrongful death jury deliberated for ten hours over the course of two days before rendering its verdict in favor of the plaintiff. The plaintiff’s lawyer reportedly spoke with the jurors after they rendered their verdict and was told that they did not accept the defendants’ efforts to downplay the incident as no big deal, especially in light of the testimony of two of the plaintiff’s experts that the incident was one of the worse they had ever seen.
If you or a loved one may have been injured (or worse) as a result of medical negligence in Virginia or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a Virginia medical malpractice lawyer (or a medical malpractice lawyer in your state) who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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