After seventeen days of trial and about one hour of deliberations, an Alabama medical malpractice jury returned a verdict on April 9, 2013 in the amount of $3 million in favor of the widow of a 56-year-old man who died because his surgeon repeatedly delayed performing surgery to remove his infected gallbladder. The defendant surgeon and his medical practice claimed that the man had died from either cardiac arrest or other reasons for which they were not responsible but an autopsy determined that the cause of death was inflammation and infection of the man’s diseased gallbladder.
According to the Alabama medical malpractice lawsuit, on November 22, 2008 the man was admitted to a local Alabama hospital due to severe gallbladder pain. It was determined on the day of admission that the man’s gallbladder needed to be removed. Nonetheless, the man’s surgeon decided to wait to perform the surgery and the man was discharged from the hospital on November 27, 2008.
The man was re-admitted to the hospital on November 29, 2008, where he stayed until his discharge on December 5, 2008. His surgeon continued to delay the gallbladder surgery for reasons that the medical malpractice lawsuit alleged were unjustified. The man returned to the hospital for a third time on December 9, 2008, complaining of severe gallbladder pain, at which time he was admitted and remained hospitalized until his death on Christmas Day (December 25, 2008).
The Alabama medical malpractice case was filed in December 2010 on behalf of the man’s widow, alleging that the surgeon had negligently delayed surgery to remove her husband’s gallbladder which resulted in his death. The Alabama medical malpractice lawsuit originally named numerous medical malpractice defendants but at the time of the jury trial, only the surgeon and his medical practice remained as defendants.
After the $3 million jury verdict was rendered against his client, the defendant surgeon’s lawyer stated that no decision had been made whether to appeal the jury’s verdict but “we’re certainly looking at our post-trial options.”
While we do not know the reasons espoused by the surgeon regarding his decision to not surgically remove the man’s diseased gallbladder over a period of about 30 days, the Alabama medical malpractice jury evidently determined that the surgeon’s reasons for delaying the surgery fell below the applicable standard of care (that is, the surgeon was negligent and had committed medical malpractice) and that the surgeon’s negligent medical care was the cause of the man’s death, which appears to have been corroborated by the reported results of the autopsy.
A claim of unnecessary delay in providing medical treatment, including unnecessary delay in performing life-saving surgery, is a common basis for medical malpractice claims filed in the courts in the United States. The standard of care in such circumstances is typically what a reasonably competent medical provider with similar training and education would have done under the same or similar circumstances in the same or similar geographic area as the defendant medical provider. If the defendant breaches the standard of care (that is, fails to provide medical care and treatment consistent with the standard of care), then the defendant is usually held responsible for the injuries and other harms caused to the patient as a result of the substandard (negligent) care.
If you, a family member, or a loved one in Alabama or in another state in the U.S. may have suffered injuries or other harms as a result of medical malpractice, you should promptly consult with an Alabama medical malpractice attorney or a medical malpractice attorney in your state who may be able to investigate your possible medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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