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When Preventative Operations Cause Unintended Problems

December 28, 2017 in

Medical procedures intended to benefit a patient can sometimes cause more problems than they solve, if not properly administered. Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo P.C. (SPBMC) represented a woman in her mid-40s who suffered tremendous pain and suffering – and endured multiple operations – as a result of a doctor’s negligence and a surgery went awry.

Our client, “Debbie” was a married guidance counselor in her 40s who had been diagnosed with cervical cancer. The cancer was in a very early stage, and Debbie hired the defendant surgeon to remove the cancerous tissue during what should have been a routine procedure. She expected to stay in the hospital for up to five days but unfortunately remained for nearly two months.

Shortly following the defendant’s surgery, it was discovered that Debbie had a hole in her ureter (one of the two tubes that run from the kidneys into the bladder) and one in her colon. The holes did not exist before the operation. The surgeon admitted that he put a hole in Debbie’s colon, but claimed he’d sewn it together; he still maintained he didn’t know how the one in her ureter appeared.

Two residents-in-training were also present at the surgery. It was impossible to prove the extent of their involvement and whether they were responsible for putting one or both of the holes into Debbie’s organs. The fact remained that the holes first appeared following the surgery.

As a result of the doctor’s carelessness, Debbie suffered a very serious infection requiring multiple operations, including a temporary colostomy which prevented her from having normal bowel movements. Additionally, she suffered intense physical pain and incurred unforeseen hospital and post-operative costs.

Since the defendant surgeon denied responsibility for the tragic circumstances, we presented Debbie’s case to a jury. During the trial, the doctor admitted that although he didn’t know what the actions of the residents-in-training were, he would be responsible if they assisted him carelessly since they were under his operative guidance. We proved to the jury that the doctor caused the hole and that he was negligent in failing to discover his mistake. We further proved that if the defendant didn’t see the hole before finishing Debbie’s surgery, it was a departure from good medical practice.

The jury found the doctor liable for Debbie’s pain and suffering and SPBMC secured a favorable award on her behalf.

A basic principle of medicine is that thorough, intraoperative inspection should be conducted following a surgery to ensure no damage was caused. For many patients, the correct post-surgical inspection and treatment may mean the difference between life and death. If you think a medical procedure caused or intensified your illness or injury, contact us immediately.

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