On March 25, 2014, after more than a month of trial, a Kentucky medical malpractice jury rendered its verdict in the amount of $10,658,265 against a bariatric surgeon and the Kentucky hospital where he had performed bariatric surgeries. The jury determined that the bariatric surgeon was 40% at fault and the hospital was 60% at fault for the injuries and death that the 39-year-old wife and mother of two suffered after she had undergone bariatric bypass surgery by the defendant surgeon at the defendant hospital on December 17, 2009. The woman died as a result of complications from the surgery, on January 13, 2010.
There are four other medical malpractice cases pending in federal court against the bariatric surgeon (three of those also name the hospital as a defendant), according to reports. It was alleged that the hospital’s bariatric program that began in 2008 was negligently marketed by the hospital and that the hospital negligently permitted the bariatric surgeon to continue performing surgeries at the hospital despite allegedly high complication rates. It was alleged that the bariatric surgeon’s complications rate was between 28% and 31%, and that four of the bariatric surgeon’s nearly 150 surgical patients at the hospital died as a result of complications from their surgeries.
The Underlying Facts
The plaintiffs alleged that the woman had laparoscopic bypass surgery for weight loss performed by the surgeon on December 17, 2009. Shortly after the surgery, the woman developed a fever and was tachycardic. On the second day after surgery, the woman reported considerable pain and was moved to the hospital’s ICU, where the surgeon reportedly failed to timely respond to signs of an infection due to a gastric leak. The gastric leak was not diagnosed until the surgeon performed a second, exploratory surgery the following day. On Christmas Day, the woman was placed on a breathing vent.
On January 4, 2010, the woman’s blood pressure was recorded to be 193/93 despite being on blood pressure medications. On January 8, 2010, the woman’s intravenous antibiotics were discontinued and she was discharged from the hospital, despite having a fever and continuing to have high blood pressure, according to the medical malpractice lawsuit.
The defendant hospital alleged that the woman’s condition had improved so that it was appropriate to discharge her from the hospital. The defendant hospital also alleged that the woman failed to comply with her discharge instructions to return to the hospital or seek other medical attention on January 12, 2010 (her husband contended that his wife’s temperature never exceeded 100 degrees and that she did not have other symptoms addressed in the discharge instructions).
An autopsy on the woman’s body after her death revealed purulent green pus in the area of her liver and pelvis and that her intestines were full of adhesions and virtually falling apart, according to the plaintiffs.
The Kentucky medical malpractice jury unanimously determined that the bariatric surgeon failed to exercise the appropriate care and skill in treating the woman and that the failure was a substantial factor in the woman’s death. The hospital was found to have failed to provide the required level of care and skill in the treatment of the woman, which had a significant impact on the woman’s condition.
If you or a family member were seriously injured (or worse) as a result of possible medical malpractice in Kentucky or in another U.S. state, you should promptly seek the legal advice of a Kentucky medical malpractice attorney or a medical malpractice attorney in your state who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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