A Georgia medical malpractice jury deliberated for four days after a nearly two-week trial before delivering its verdict on September 26, 2019 that cleared three of the defendants of medical malpractice but found one defendant physician and his employer liable for failing to properly treat an elderly woman’s vocal cord injury as a result of surgery that the plaintiff claimed contributed to the woman’s death 44 days after the surgery.
The 74-year-old patient had lung resection surgery in a Georgia hospital in 2014 during which the anesthesiologist attempted to insert a double-lumen endotracheal tube that was too large for the petite woman (she was five feet tall and weighed less than 100 pounds). A smaller breathing tube was then inserted and the surgery was completed.
Three days after the surgery, the woman was found to be in a confused state with a slight fever and a high white blood count. A few days later, the woman’s voice was hoarse and she told her nurse that her throat was very sore. The woman was transferred to the hospital’s ICU where a feeding tube was inserted. She was then diagnosed with aspiration pneumonia that a resident doctor diagnosed as being caused by the gap between the woman’s vocal cords caused by the attempt to insert the too large breathing tube during the surgery. The resident doctor decided to not treat the woman’s vocal cord injury at that time due to her post-operative delirium and the risk of anesthesia associated with performing another procedure.
The woman’s condition continued to deteriorate despite being under the care of multiple doctors, which the defense argued was due to failure to thrive, hypoxia, and her delirium. The woman died three days after entering hospice care. The defense told the jury that the woman was a former smoker with a medical history that included breast cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, and collagenous colitis, arguing to the jury that the woman was old and frail.
The Georgia medical malpractice jury determined that the defendant ENT doctor who had sent the resident doctor to examine the woman in the ICU should have examined the woman himself and found that his medical negligence contributed to the woman’s death. The jury awarded the plaintiff $2,350,000 against the defendant ENT doctor and his employer.
The plaintiff’s Georgia medical malpractice attorney stated after the verdict that the defense had not offered to settle the Georgia medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit but nonetheless she does not anticipate that the defense will file an appeal.
If you or a loved one may have been injured (or worse) as a result of medical negligence in Georgia or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a Georgia medical malpractice lawyer, or a medical malpractice lawyer in your state, who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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