In 2008, a 60-year-old Korean immigrant who was the primary caregiver for his mentally ill adult daughter was admitted into a New York hospital for surgery to remove his inflamed gallbladder due to gallstones. The surgery was canceled the first day because the man’s surgery was not put on the surgical schedule. The same thing happened the next day. When the hospital was finally ready to have the surgery performed, the man was too sick to have an operation. Four days after he was admitted into the hospital, he died.
The man’s family filed a medical malpractice case as a result of the man’s allegedly negligent medical care that led to his unnecessary death. On December 23, 2011, a medical malpractice jury awarded the family $7.6 million, which the hospital has pledged to appeal because the hospital considers the verdict to be excessive and based on the jury’s sympathy for the man and his daughter, even though the hospital admitted that a mistake had occurred.
Before he became ill, the man would bring his adult daughter with him to his work as a salesman every day. After the man’s death, the daughter had to be placed in state hospitals and group homes. The family has stated that the jury’s award will allow them to bring the epileptic daughter home where she will receive around-the-clock care.
It is highly unusual for a patient with an inflamed gallbladder who is hospitalized to die from the disease. Removal of the gallbladder is a relatively common surgery with a high rate of success for treating gallbladder disease. People who have their gallbladders surgically removed often live full and active lives. Once the Korean man was admitted into the hospital and was initially scheduled for surgery, a successful outcome was highly likely if the proper and timely medical care had been provided.
Medical mistakes and medical errors in hospitals occur much too often. Most medical mistakes are avoidable if proper and timely attention and care are provided. Hospitals that are properly run, managed, and staffed with properly trained and experienced medical professionals are less likely to experience the extent of medical errors than less efficient medical facilities. As the Korean man’s medical malpractice claim highlights, a seemingly minor mistake such as failing to place the man’s surgical procedure on the surgical schedule, especially if it occurs twice in a row, can have catastrophic or deadly consequences. When it comes to medical care, too often there is no such thing as a minor mistake — a person’s health and well-being are placed at risk both by the disease itself and by the medical care necessary to treat or cure the disease or its effects.
If you were injured as a result of negligent medical care in a hospital or by a medical provider such as a physician, surgeon, nurse, radiologist, therapist, or other health care provider, you should promptly seek the advice and assistance of a medical malpractice attorney to investigate your medical care to detemine whether you were the victim of medical malpractice.
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