On November 12, 2015, a Georgia medical malpractice jury returned its verdict in the amount of $36 million in favor of a woman who suffered paralysis followed by death as a result of her surgeon tying off her aorta instead of her renal artery during kidney surgery, and then failed to discover the surgical mistake for 50 hours.
The 37-year-old plaintiff had suffered from chronic kidney infections that had not responded to conservative treatment. She therefore had surgery in March 2011 at a Georgia hospital to have her kidney removed. Two urological surgeons performed the surgery.
One of the surgeons was unable to visualize her renal artery when he erroneously tied off the woman’s aorta, according to the woman’s Georgia medical malpractice lawsuit. The tied-off aorta caused blood flow to her lower body to be substantially compromised (the defendants claimed that there was only a partial occlusion of the aorta and the plaintiff alleged a complete occlusion causing irreversible injury within six to eighteen hours), which was not recognized during the more than five-hour surgery.
Immediately after her surgery, the plaintiff repeatedly complained of pain and she subsequently developed numbness and the inability to move her legs, which became increasingly cold due to the lack of blood flow.
Despite many medical specialists being consulted regarding the plaintiff’s condition over the following two days, no one suspected that a vascular problem was causing the plaintiff’s symptoms, according to her medical malpractice claim. It was only after a vascular surgeon was consulted more than fifty hours after the surgery that it was discovered that her aorta had been mistakenly tied off during her surgery. The vascular surgeon removed the ligature after which adequate blood began flowing to her lower extremities.
Unfortunately for the woman, the surgical error and the long delay in diagnosing the surgical error that led to blood loss caused her to lose function of her remaining kidney and the death of muscle and skin in her lower body. The plaintiff spent more than 19 months in the hospital due to her injuries, well in excess of the eight to ten days that she expected to be in the hospital after having her diseased kidney removed.
The plaintiff died on August 16, 2013, by which time her medical bills were approximately $6.1 million. Her Georgia medical malpractice lawsuit was filed about five months before her death. After the plaintiff’s death, her estate and her children were substituted as plaintiffs.
The Georgia medical malpractice trial began on October 26, 2015 and ended on November 12, 2015, when the jury returned its verdict in the amount of $36 million ($11 million for the wrongful death claim and $25 million awarded to the woman’s estate for her pain and suffering, medical expenses, and funeral expenses). The jury allocated responsibility as follows: 87.5% to the surgeon who had tied off the woman’s aorta and 12.5% to the defendant hospital.
The surgeon who made the devastating mistake reportedly had settled with the family before the Georgia medical malpractice case was filed. The defendant hospital argued at trial that the surgeon was 100% responsibly for the plaintiff’s injuries. The jury’s findings mean that the defendant hospital will be responsible for $4.5 million of the jury’s verdict, which the defendant hospital indicated it will not appeal although it will seek a set off by more than $2 million.
Source Marion v. Little, No. 13EV016954.
If you or a loved one were injured during surgery in Georgia or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a medical malpractice lawyer in Georgia or in your state who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
Visit our website to be connected with local medical malpractice lawyers who may be able to assist you with your possible medical malpractice claim, or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959.
Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.