On May 6, 2015, a Michigan medical malpractice jury awarded $21 million for the unnecessary brain surgery performed on an 81-year-old woman who was scheduled for jaw surgery but had brain surgery because of a mix-up regarding her radiology films. The woman lived for only 60 days after the wrong surgery and died while in hospice after she was disconnected from a ventilator. The defendant hospital continues to deny any wrongdoing and has vowed to appeal the jury’s verdict.
The 81-year-old patient had suffered a heart attack in October 2011 from which she was still recovering when she was admitted to the defendant hospital in January 2012 for surgery on her jaw to address bilateral jaw displacement. The plaintiff’s Michigan medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that the woman’s CT scan results were mixed up with the CT scan results of another patient who had bleeding in her brain. Due to the mix-up of radiology results, the medical providers believed that the 81-year-old woman was suffering from serious bleeding in her brain that needed emergency brain surgery.
The surgeons brought the woman to the operating room where they drilled five holes in her skull and removed the right side of her skull before determining that the patient on the operating room table did not have a skull fracture or bleeding in her brain that the surgeons expected to find. After the unnecessary brain surgery was completed, a physician at the defendant hospital advised the woman’s family of the findings (or rather the lack of findings) during the surgery and further advised the family that there must have been a mix-up of patient radiology studies. The woman’s family, however, did not learn of the extent of the mistakes until they heard the testimony during trial.
All of the participants involved in this Michigan medical malpractice case were surprised by the amount of the jury’s verdict, explaining that the jury must have been incensed by the facts that were presented during the trial. In light of the woman’s advanced age, underlying medical conditions, and life expectancy under the circumstances, it is likely that post-trial motions will be filed and will result in the $21 million medical malpractice verdict being reduced substantially. However, it should not be lost in the shadow of the massive verdict that the 81-year-old woman was the wife of a surviving husband, the mother of two daughters and one son, and the grandmother of several grandchildren.
A spokesperson for the defendant hospital stated after the medical malpractice verdict was reached, “We’re very concerned about how the details of this case have been portrayed.”
If you or a family member were the victim of wrong site surgery or surgery on the wrong patient in Michigan or elsewhere in the United States, you should promptly find a Michigan medical malpractice attorney or a medical malpractice attorney in your state who may investigate your wrong site surgery or wrong patient surgery for you and represent you in a medical malpractice claim, if appropriate.
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