A 37-year-old Alabama man had surgery in a hospital for a duodenal ulcer. After the surgery, the man required multiple blood transfusions. Despite having a low blood count after the surgery, the man was discharged to home following the surgery, where he died a few days later from exsanguination in an artery (bleeding out to the point that the volume of blood in the body cannot sustain life), according to an autopsy.
The man’s family brought a medical malpractice case against the hospital where the surgery was performed and against various physicians involved with the man’s medical care. The medical malpractice claim alleged that the surgery was negligently performed, other medical care was negligently provided. the attending physician failed to adequately perform a proper examination of the man before discharge from the hospital, and that the man was not provided with proper follow-up care. The medical malpractice defendants countered that the man’s ulcer was unusually large and required non-standard surgical procedures. They also alleged during the trial that the man suffered from anemia, was a smoker, and that he used alcohol and over-the-counter pain medication that they alleged complicated his medical condition.
The two-week medical malpractice trial earlier this year was followed by three hours of deliberations by the jury. The jury found that the defendants were negligent in their care of the man and that their negligence was the cause of his death. The jury awarded $3 million in damages resulting from the man’s death.
All surgeries, whether they are considered minor surgery or major surgery, have inherent risks due to the nature and extent of the surgeries themselves. While we all hope for the best possible outcome from surgery, not all bad outcomes are due to medical malpractice. Some potential complications from surgery are known ahead of time and are supposed to be discussed with the patient (part of the “informed consent” discussion between the surgeon and the patient before the surgery). Sometimes the extent and/or manner of surgery needs to be extended or changed after the surgery has begun due to findings and professional decisions necessarily made during the surgery. There are also known possible complications from the anesthesia used during surgery.
However, there are circumstances that occur before, during, or after surgery that may fall below the level of care necessary under the circumstances (that is, a breach of the standard of care that is medical malpractice) for which the surgeon and/or other medical care providers are responsible. Sometimes it is not obvious that medical malpractice occurred during surgery (unlike operating at the wrong surgical site, which is a clear case of medical malpractice) for which a medical malpractice attorney’s assistance in having the medical records reviewed by an appropriate medical expert may help determine if medical malpractice occurred (after all, the patient is usually unconscious or heavily sedated during the surgery and probably is unaware of medical negligence occurring during the surgery).
If you suspect that you or a family member have been the victim of surgical malpractice, you should consult with a medical malpractice lawyer to learn about your rights and to protect your interests in the matter. Click here to visit our website or call us toll free at 800-295-3959 to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your local area who may be able to assist you in investigating your possible medical malpractice claim.
Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.