On January 20, 2012, an Indiana jury returned a medical malpractice verdict in the amount of $1.5 million in favor of a former special education teacher who lost most of her small intestine due to the alleged medical negligence of her surgeon, for his failure to perform bowel surgery when necessary and by leaving town without arranging proper coverage for his patient.
A panel of three independent doctors who had reviewed the woman’s medical malpractice claim under Indiana’s Malpractice Review System found that her medical malpractice claims were legitimate and allowed the medical malpractice case to proceed to a jury trial. The $1.5 million verdict will be reduced to $1.25 million under Indiana’s cap on damages.
In 2003, the then 21-year-old special education teacher went to the hospital on a Thursday with complaints of severe abdominal pain. The surgeon who was consulted initially scheduled her for surgery on the next day (Friday). But on the scheduled day of surgery, the surgeon decided to cancel the surgery. The surgeon then left town for the weekend but allegedly failed to arrange for adequate surgical coverage for his patient. The woman’s condition deteriorated and became dire over the next two days that required another surgeon to be called to the hospital to perform surgery on the woman early in the morning on Sunday. Most of the woman’s small bowel had to be removed, which her attorney argued could have been saved to some extent if the surgery had been performed as originally scheduled.
It turned out that the woman had ischemic bowel disease (damage to the small bowel due to decreased blood supply to the intestine) that was due to a congenital blood clotting condition that was affecting the blood flow to her intestines, and not a kidney infection, as originally diagnosed.
The removal of most of her small bowel has resulted in food passing through her digestive system in as little as 30 minutes instead of the typical 6 to 8 hours in healthy adults. Because of her highly increased metabolism, she does not get enough nutrition from the foods she consumes and she must take daily medication. Her condition causes her to be severely bloated and her physical weakness severely limits her ability to work.
While medicine is not an exact science and bad outcomes can occur in the absence of medical negligence, when the care provided by a medical professional fails to comply with the necessary standard of care, then medical malpractice may have occurred. If medical malpractice is a cause of injuries, then those who are the victims of medical malpractice may be entitled to receive compensation for their resulting injuries and expenses.
If the negligence of a surgeon or other medical professional may have caused you or a family member to be seriously or permanently injured, you should seek the advice of a medical malpractice attorney to become aware of your legal rights.
Visit our website to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your local area who may be able to bring a medical malpractice claim on your behalf. You may also call us toll free at 800-295-3959.
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