In early August 2018, a federal medical malpractice juy in Vermont returned its verdict in favor of the plaintiff in the amount of $400,000 against a Vermont surgeon whom the jury determined failed to advise the plaintiff regarding alternatives to the surgical procedure that resulted in the plaintiff suffering complications. The Vermont medical malpractice jury awarded the plaintiff the reasonable value of her medical expenses, the amount of which the parties had agreed upon, but did not award any compensatory damages for her alleged noneconomic damages (pain and suffering, mental anguish, or loss of enjoyment of life).
The Underlying Facts
The plaintiff was 64-years-old with a history of diverticulitis and complaints of abdominal pain when she went to the emergency room of the defendant hospital on September 17, 2014. According to the plaintiff’s Vermont medical malpractice lawsuit, a CT scan was performed at that time but the results were misinterpreted, resulting in the plaintiff being discharged from the defendant hospital.
The plaintiff returned to the defendant hospital on September 30, 2014, at which time it was determined that she had a large abscess in her abdomen and a frozen pelvis that the plaintiff alleged should have resulted in no surgery at that time. The plaintiff alleged that the proper medical treatment would have been using a catheter inserted into her abdomen to drain the abscess. Because the drainage procedure could not be performed at the defendant hospital, the plaintiff contended that she should have been transferred to another hospital where the drainage procedure could have been safely performed.
Nonetheless, the defendant suregon brought the plaintiff to the operating room at the defendant hospital where the plaintiff suffered complications from anesthesia that subsequently required that she be transferred to another hospital.
The plaintiff filed her Vermont medical malpractice lawsuit against both the surgeon and the hospital where the original surgery took place, alleging both medical negligence and the lack of informed consent for the surgical procedure. The plaintiff alleged that she would not have consented to the surgery had the defendant surgeon properly advised her regarding alternatives to the surgery, including percutaneous drainage of the abscess.
While the Vermont jury found that there was no medical malpractice, the federal jury determined that a reasonable surgeon under similar circumstances would have advised the plaintiff regarding the alternative to surgery and that the plaintiff would have chosen the alternative had she been properly provided that information. Because the drainage alternative procedure was not available at the defendant hospital, the jury determined that the plaintiff would had chosen to be transferred to another hospital where the drainage procedure would have been performed, and the plaintiff thus would not have suffered the anesthesia complication and incurred the additional medical expenses.
On August 9, 2018, the judge approved the parties’ stipulation that they waived filing post-trial motions and appeals, and that the plaintiff was entitled to an additional $40,883 in trial-related expenses.
If you believe that you suffered harm as a result of a medical provider’s failure to obtain your informed consent for medical treatment in Vermont or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a medical malpractice lawyer in Vermont or in your state who may investigate your lack of informed consent claim for you and represent you in an informed consent case, if appropriate.
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