The VA Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio has agreed to settle a medical malpractice lawsuit brought by a widow for the death of her husband as a result of alleged medical malpractice for $500,000, which has been approved by a federal judge of the U.S. District Court in Akron, Ohio. The medical malpractice lawsuit was brought against the United States in federal court pursuant to the provisions of the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”) under which a jury trial is unavailable (under the FTCA, federal tort claims are decided by a judge instead of a jury).
According to the medical malpractice claim, the married 59-year-old veteran was a truck driver from Ohio who underwent hernia repair surgery at the Cleveland VA Medical Center in September 2009. He was not advised and was completely unaware that the surgeon who performed his surgery had never performed that type of surgery in the past and that his surgeon had been a licensed as a surgeon for only a few months.
During the hernia repair surgery, the surgeon evidently perforated the man’s bowel that the surgeon failed to recognize during the surgery. The perforated bowel went undiscovered by the VA Medical Center’s medical staff for several days, allowing the contents of the man’s bowel to leak into his abdomen and cause a serious and widespread infection. The man died several months later, allegedly due to the infection caused by medical negligence.
While it is a known complication of hernia repair surgery that there can be injury to the bowel, it may nonetheless be negligent to cause the bowel injury under the circumstances and/or to fail to discover the bowel injury during the surgery. It may also be medical negligence to fail to timely diagnose the injury when symptoms consistent with a bowel perforation appear during the recovery period and/or to fail to timely treat the bowel perforation.
The man’s widow was quoted as stating, “It was only supposed to have been a one-day hernia surgery, so I figured he was supposed to go home. And then when they kept keeping him day after day, then it started running through my mind why isn’t he going home? The men and women who serve our country in the armed forces deserve to receive quality health care at VA medical facilities.”
We understand that surgeons are not born into their profession but rather are educated and trained to be surgeons, and that newly minted surgeons need hands-on experience in order to master their craft, but who would voluntarily agree to be the first patient that a surgeon is allowed to operate on? How confident would you be in the successful outcome of your surgery if you were advised that your surgeon was gaining necessary experience by operating on you?
This case does raise important issues for everyone who may have the need to undergo non-emergency surgery: how competent is your surgeon, how much experience does your surgeon have in performing the procedure you require, and what is your surgeon’s track record with regard to surgical outcomes and complications during and following surgery? Everyone must be pro-active in his or her own medical care by asking the important questions at the right time and to be not intimated into being a passive patient.
If you or a family member were injured as a result of medical malpractice in the United States, you should promptly seek the advice of a local medical malpractice attorney who may agree to assist you with your claim.
Click here to visit our website to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your state who may agree to help you in filing a medical malpractice claim, if appropriate, or telephone us on our toll-free line: 800-295-3959.
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