Surgical errors account for thousands of incidents of medical negligence each year and are responsible for untold amounts of human suffering. When the error is identified and found to be the substantial cause of the patient’s injury or death, the victim or the victim’s family can assert a legal right to compensation for the medical malpractice damages incurred. The right to compensation under that circumstance applies under California law and that of every other state.
Recent reports describe a tragic surgical error that occurred in 2011 in another state when a bizarre mishap inflicted permanent damage on the patient. The lawsuit recently resulted in a $1.8 million jury verdict. The plaintiff claimed that she was rendered sterile after an inexperienced doctor mistakenly cut her fallopian tube while trying to surgically remove an abscess.
The plaintiff had gone to the hospital with complaints of pelvic pain and was admitted on May 16, 2011. The doctors were unsure of the diagnosis but apparently decided that an appendectomy was in order, which they performed on May 23, 2011. If the treatment had stopped there, the situation would have been resolved, at least for that point in time.
However, the defendant surgeon, who was only 18 months out of her residency, came into the room and began operating on an abscess of the patient’s right fallopian tube. At some point, the surgeon realized that the procedure had not gone well and called for the help of another doctor. The bizarre facts were exacerbated when she walked out of the operating room in tears, causing the patient’s waiting husband and mother to experience the shock of thinking that their loved one had died.
Fortunately, the patient survived, only to face a life of sterility. She also had to undergo another procedure due to the negligent operation. This was a rather straightforward case of negligence and medical malpractice. It also presents perhaps a surprising choice by the defendants to go to trial. The case would have very likely had a similar resolution if tried in California.
Source: theday.com, “Jury awards $1.8 million in medical malpractice case“, Karen Florin, April 20, 2016