On April 12, 2017, a Washington medical malpractice jury awarded a man and his wife a total of $8.5 million in compensatory damages ($6 million to the husband and $2.5 million to the wife for the harm to their marriage) as a result of complications from abdominal surgery that led to the man’s penis having to be splayed open and tissue from his check removed and implanted in his penis in order to repair his obliterated urethra.
The now 47-year-old man went to the defendant Seattle hospital in 2013 to have an abdominal tumor surgically removed, which required that a stent be implanted in his urethra to carry urine from his bladder to his penis. The man’s wife, who was an anesthesiologist working at the same hospital, knew who was the best urological surgeon at the hospital and insisted that the head of the hospital’s urology department perform her husband’s surgery. The plaintiffs claimed in their Washington medical malpractice lawsuit that the urology department head agreed to perform the surgery, and that the consent form that the husband signed specifically consented to only the urology department head performing his surgery.
Unbeknownst to the plaintiffs, a recently arrived urology fellow performed the stent procedure on the man and the urology department head was never in the operating room and never participated in the man’s surgery. The man was told after his surgery that the surgery went well, and he was discharged to home. At home, the man experienced overflow incontinence because his bladder could not empty due to the negligent obliteration of his urethra during the surgery, according to the plaintiffs’ Washington medical malpractice lawyer.
The surgical repair involved splaying open the man’s penis so that tissue taken from his check could be implanted in his penis to repair his urethra. As a result, the man was unable to have sex, return to work, run, or coach his children’s sports teams for seven months. The man testified during trial that he woke up some nights screaming in pain. The plaintiffs also alleged that their marriage was harmed due to the medical malpractice and the lack of consent for the fellow to perform the stent procedure (the plaintiffs did not discover that the fellow had performed the stent procedure, and that the urology department head had not been present during the man’s surgery, until after the man was discharged from the defendant Seattle hospital).
The consent form signed by the man was a crucial document during the Washington medical malpractice trial. The man claimed that he was presented with the consent form by the fellow the morning of his surgery and that the fellow told him that the urology department head would be performing his surgery; the fellow never disclosed that he would be participating in the surgery (the fellow had recently come to the defendant hospital to further his training in female pelvic-floor surgery).
The consent form signed by the man that was shown to the Washington medical malpractice jury stated, in the fellow’s handwriting, that the surgeons performing the surgery were the urology department head/fellow. The plaintiffs alleged that the fellow’s name was added to the consent form after the man had signed it (the plaintiffs alleged that they requested to see the original signed consent form but the defendant hospital said that the original had been discarded and offered them a scanned copy instead).
The defendant hospital disagreed with the Washington medical malpractice jury’s verdict in favor of the plaintiffs and is exploring its options.
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