The News and Tribune reported this week on yet another medical malpractice verdict stemming from a medical provider’s failure to act quickly enough to deal with a complained of condition. Frequent blog readers (and those familiar with medical malpractice lawsuits) will recognize that this sort of conduct is often at the very heart of these cases. Each Chicago medical malpractice lawyer at our firm knows that time and again doctors, nurses, and other care providers do not act with the speed that would be reasonable under the circumstances, often with serious repercussions for the unsuspecting patients’ involved.
According to the story, this latest verdict stemmed from a woman who suffered serious injury because her doctor did not perform a vital surgery in a timely fashion. The victim, a special education teacher, was only 21 years old when she checked into a local hospital complaining of severe abdominal pain. Shortly thereafter she had a surgical consultation with a doctor to determine if surgery were necessary to fix her abdominal problems. According to a medical malpractice attorney representing the plaintiff in the case, the surgeon initially determined that surgery was absolutely necessary, and so the procedure was scheduled for the very next day. However, when the woman arrived at the hospital the next day the doctor bizarrely decided to cancel the surgery altogether. Then the doctor left town for the weekend and did not make any other arrangements to procure alternative surgical coverage.
The consequences of the delay on the patient would be severe.
The woman’s condition worsened over the next two days. It got so bad that other doctors providing care began worrying if the woman was going to even survive. Eventually two days later an alternative surgeon was called to perform an emergency surgery late that night.
It seems that the woman had what is known as ischemic bowel disease (also known as “dead bowel”). Unfortunately, by the time the surgeon actually performed the operation, virtually the woman’s entire bowel had been destroyed. She now suffers from short gut syndrome because of the removal of most of her small intestine. This is a permanent (and debilitating) disorder.
As the woman’s medical malpractice attorney noted during the case, it is unreasonable for a surgeon to cancel an operation and leave without properly monitoring a patient. Either the doctor should have performed the surgery or he should have said no to the surgery while keeping an eye on the situation to ensure that no problems came up. This is particularly true considering that the situation was such that immediate surgery seemed necessary at first anyway.
Following the four day trial the jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff. They found that the overall past and future losses suffered by the woman amounted to $1.4 million. However, some of that award will be cut because of arbitrary damage caps in the state which randomly limit the amount of money that wrongdoers have to pay regardless of the consequences of their negligent conduct.
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