Articles Posted in Surgical Error

The Center for Justice and Democracy (CJ&D), a consumer rights group out of New York Law School, has shared their list of 22 famous figures who have been harmed and even killed by medical malpractice.

Most of us are familiar with the high profile drug-related tragedies of Michael Jackson (2009) and Prince (2016) and even Judy Garland (1969) and Marilyn Monroe (1962). Some of us are familiar with the details surrounding the death of comedian Joan Rivers in 2014 during an endoscopy at a New York City clinic.  But it was surprising even to us to read the details of medical neglect in cases involving other beloved celebrities. As CJ&D pointed out in their report, no one is exempt from medical negligence or malpractice, not even celebrities with all the money and resources in the world at their fingertips. The report also shared several findings that now have become well known to the public. Among them, that medical errors are the 3rd leading cause of death in this country.

Each of the 22 cases highlighted in the report has resulted in a settlement or verdict (or is pending) and in many of them, grieving loved ones or the victims themselves have said that it’s not about money, but instead about enforcing a sense of right vs. wrong in the face of injustice.

The largest ever medical malpractice verdict was awarded on Monday to now-17-year-old Faith DeGrand from Wyandotte, Michigan. After a two week trial and 2.5 hours of deliberation, the 8 person jury found Detroit Medical Center’s Children’s Hospital of Michigan and two doctors guilty of malpractice, awarding $135 million to the girl.

Doctor Vacationed Twice While Victim Lay Paralyzed

Faith DeGrand was 10 years old when she went to Children’s Hospital of Michigan for a relatively routine pediatric scoliosis surgery. Following protocol for the surgery, a rod and screws were placed in her back to help straighten her spine. Her surgeon inappropriately placed the surgical hardware, causing compression on the young girl’s spine. Immediately following the surgery, Faith experienced severe pain, paralysis of her arms and legs, and lost all bowel and bladder control. She was unable to walk or use the bathroom, bound to a wheelchair and forced to use a catheter. Realizing the placement of the surgical devices was causing Faith’s injuries, another surgeon removed them. However, the damage was already done. Faith spent the next year in a wheelchair and will spend the rest of her life using a catheter and unable to have full control of her arms and legs, a condition known as a quadriparesis.

The Center for Justice & Democracy, a consumer rights advocacy group out of New York Law School, has compiled a review of medical malpractice incidents and has publicly shared their findings. Entitled “Medical Malpractice: By the Numbers,” the briefing examines recent medical studies and investigations of both inpatient and outpatient groups and facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies, and hospice organizations.

The data brings deficiencies in medical care into the spotlight, specifically the care Americans receive within hospitals. Below is a summary of information from the report our medical malpractice attorneys think is particularly informative and worth sharing. All data sources can be found in the CJ&D briefing. We have included the page number of the report that contains the source for each statistic.


A joint effort by the Houston Chronicle and ProPublica has shared disturbing news of a former top heart transplant center’s failure rate. In January, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) cited Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center in Houston, Texas for having twice the expected number of deaths between 2014-2016 in post transplant patients. CMS has given the facility until August to improve their outcomes before they are deemed ineligible to receive federal funding. The citation caught the attention of the Houston Chronicle, who began asking questions of former cardiologists, transplant patients and the loved ones of those patients who had died at the facility. Investigative journalists also spoke to patients with success stories. However, despite several successes, the number of fatal mistakes and omissions of truth made by the surgical team, and in particular its lead surgeon, Dr. Jeffrey Morgan, are astonishing.

Hospital Acquisition the Beginning of Turmoil

Baylor St. Luke’s, the adult teaching hospital for Baylor College of Medicine, has long been seen as one of the best heart transplant centers in the country. Some of the first heart transplants ever performed were done at the hospital in the 1960s, and the surgeon credited with surgically implanting one of the first LVADs (Left Ventricle Assisted Device) is the founder of the heart transplant program at the hospital. For decades the facility enjoyed a reputation as one of the top heart transplant centers in the country, if not the world. Patients would travel from all over to be treated there, and the hospital’s website features their doctors bragging about the hospital’s accomplishments. But most of those were in the past.

A well-known downtown Chicago surgical center, Gold Coast Surgicenter, is being sued by a male patient who claims an anesthesiologist negligently administered anesthetic agents, causing him to suffer cardiac arrest that caused brain damage. According to the filing, as a result of improper monitoring during a routine outpatient surgery to repair the patient’s knuckle, the patient suffered from ‘hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy and other irreversible neurologic brain damage and injury.’

Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) can occur when the brain has endured a period of time with either reduced oxygen to the brain or reduced oxygen in the blood. This diminished or fully restricted flow of oxygen to the brain causes serious brain damage. HIE is most frequently noted in birth injury cases of cerebral palsy. In adults, HIE is a concern during and after cardiac arrest.

Facility Lacked Standardized Policies and Procedures for Patient Monitoring and Resuscitation

Doctors are responsible for ensuring that their patients are properly cared for and that they provide the necessary diagnosis and treatment in every case. One man recently filed a lawsuit against several doctors alleging that they failed to provide adequate care. Their negligence caused him to suffer permanent eye injuries. According to the lawsuit, the doctors did not timely treat him and failed to refer him for further treatment, which was necessary.

Failure to Treat

When a doctor fails to properly diagnose or treat a patient, serious injuries can result. The failure to treat is negligent, just as making a mistake while treating a patient. Negligent actions by a doctor occur when he makes a mistake or fails to do something that should have been done. A doctor knows, or should have known, that his actions, or lack of actions, could cause harm to the patient. Negligence by a doctor or other medical professional is also usually called medical malpractice.

Improper Eye Treatment

The man in this case claims to have suffered permanent damage to his eyes as a result of improper treatment. The doctors did not take sufficient measures to prevent injuries and did not refer the man for surgery in a timely manner. As a result, the man’s condition was allowed to worsen and has now resulted in permanent injuries. Eye care is a very important area of concern because if a problem is not promptly treated it may lead to blindness in some situations.
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We trust that when we have surgery the doctor will take all the necessary steps to prevent us from further injury or harm. However, that is not always the case. A malpractice lawsuit was filed in Cook County alleging negligence during surgery caused serious injuries. The lawsuit states that the man underwent a surgical procedure during which a clip was not removed. The lawsuit seeks damages of more than $50,000 as well as legal costs.

Medical Mistakes

According to the CDC, Centers for Disease Control, medical mistakes are now the third most common cause of death in the United States. As medical patients, we assume that the doctor knows what to do and is careful not to make any mistakes. Yet thousands of people are injured or die every year because of medical errors. Medical mistakes consist of many types of errors including such things as misdiagnosis, pharmacy errors, medication dosage problems, failure to diagnose, and surgical mistakes.
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When we enter the hospital we trust that the doctors and other professionals will provide us with the proper medical care and treatment we need. Sometimes, however, the hospital is negligent in providing the care necessary. This was the situation for a 41-year-old patient who died after the hospital failed to properly resuscitate her after she suffered cardiac arrest during a biopsy procedure. Mount Sinai Hospital was ordered to pay $8 million to the woman’s son as the result of a jury decision after a malpractice lawsuit.

Admitted to Hospital

The woman in this case was admitted to the hospital with various symptoms including chronic cellulitis in her leg, diabetes, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The woman was being evaluated and while staying in the hospital she developed pneumonia along with shortness of breath. While the original symptoms had subsided for a period of time, they reappeared. The woman began having some breathing issues related to her lungs. The doctors recommended an elective esophagogastroduodenoscopy, called an EGD.

Procedure Gone Wrong
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The use of diagnostic and testing equipment is a necessary part of the diagnosis and treatment of many medical conditions. When we go to a medical facility for tests we expect that the employees will keep us safe from harm and will take precautions to make sure to properly operate the equipment. A recent lawsuit filed in Cook County indicates that a woman was injured during an MRI procedure. The lawsuit is requesting a jury trial and damages in excess of $50,000.


An MRI, magnetic resonance imaging, is a medical test that utilizes magnetic pulses along with radio wave energy to view the internal organs and other areas of the body. An MRI is a special piece of equipment that has specific requirements. The MRI is different from a CT scan. During an MRI, the patient’s body passes into a unit where it must remain still for a period of time while the testing is done. The woman states that the machine was not operated properly and that the MRI machine was not of an adequate size. As a result, the woman suffered physical injuries to the left side of her body.

Negligent Care

The medical personnel that operate MRI machines must be properly trained in the use of the equipment. MRIs may be either open or closed. The closed type may have been utilized in this case. The equipment may not have been the right size to accommodate the woman, or she could have been improperly positioned on the table. Whatever the reason, the woman sustained injuries because of the negligent care provided. The medical professionals should have been more careful and should have noticed that the woman was not aligned to fit into the machine.
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When you enter the hospital for routine surgery, you expect that the doctor and medical staff will do everything necessary to keep you from harm. You also trust that your original medical issue will be correctly resolved. That wasn’t the case for one woman who recently filed a lawsuit. According to the lawsuit, the woman suffered serious and permanent injuries from skin burns that occurred while she was undergoing an abdominal hysterectomy. The medical malpractice lawsuit claims the doctor is responsible for failing to provide proper medical care which caused her injuries.

Surgical Mistakes

Surgical mistakes happen more often than most people realize. Many times, the mistakes are minor and do not negatively impact the health of the patient. But sometimes the injuries are much more serious. When a mistake causes a severe injury, the doctor may be negligent and could be responsible for medical malpractice. The woman states that the doctor in this case did not properly evaluate her medical condition and failed to perform the operation correctly.

Botched Hysterectomy Procedure

The woman in this case required a hysterectomy. A hysterectomy is a procedure that is done to partially or completely remove a woman’s reproductive organs, including the uterus. It is often done in response to pain caused by fibroids, or for other medical reasons such as cancer. A total hysterectomy removes the entire uterus, cervix, and ovaries. In this case, the lawsuit states that the procedure was an abdominal hysterectomy. This is open surgery where an incision is made through which to make the removal. Most hysterectomies are completed using this procedure.
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