On May 22, 2012, a California medical malpractice jury returned a verdict in the amount of nearly $1.2 million in favor of the plaintiffs after a two-week trial (including $908,804 for medical expenses and pain and suffering of the medical malpractice victim and $267,500 to the patient’s husband for his losses as a result of the alleged medical malpractice committed on his wife).
The medical malpractice victim was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2009. Her surgeon recommended that she have a total hysterectomy that would involve the surgical removal of her uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, and her ovaries. Her medical malpractice expert faulted the surgeon for failing to perform a routine biopsy of the woman’s cervix before the extensive surgery that would have revealed that the cancer was so small that the woman did not need to have a total hysterectomy.
After the hysterectomy, the woman was in severe pain and bled profusely when she was being discharged from the hospital. At home she had diarrhea coming from both her rectum and her vagina (the surgeon tore her rectum during the surgery). The surgeon attempted to repair the tear on two occasions, but both of his efforts failed.
The woman also developed a fistula (an abnormal opening) between her vagina and rectum and suffered nerve damage to her bladder that caused her to be partially incontinent (for which she had to undergo multiple surgeries over the course of more than a year during which she had to wear an ostomy bag).
What the woman did not know when she chose her surgeon was that he had failed his examinations to become board-certified in gynecologic oncology despite a website stating that the surgeon was board-certified. And the woman was also unaware that the surgeon had at least eight medical malpractice claims filed against him from September 2009 to May 2012.
Also unknown to the woman was another case in which the Medical Board of California, through the findings of an administrative law judge, decided that the surgeon had committed gross negligence, had failed to maintain adequate and accurate records, and had failed to obtain the written consent of a 66-year-old woman before removing her uterus. The administrative law judge initially recommended that the suregon’s medical license be revoked but instead placed the surgeon on administrative probation for three years. The administrative law judge’s findings have been appealed by the surgeon’s lawyer and are scheduled to be heard later this year.
An important lesson to be learned from this woman’s tragic medical malpractice case is that it is imperative that a second opinion be obtained with regard to proposed surgery, the need for surgery, and the extent of the proposed surgery any time non-emergency surgery is recommended. As any carpenter will tell you: you measure twice before you cut once.
If you may be the victim of medical malpractice by a surgeon or another medical provider in California or in another state in the United States, you should promptly contact a local medical malpractice attorney to investigate and review your possible medical malpractice claim for you.
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