Surgical errors may be the prototypical form of medical malpractice. That is because they involve the classic scenario of a patient who is in the complete control of the medical professional (often under anesthesia) with complex bodily invasions that often include life and death issues. Of course, attorneys working on these cases appreciate that patients are at their most vulnerable during surgeries, and all medical practitioners must abide by aprropriate standards of care at those times.
A recent story in the Star Exponent is an example of this type of case. According to the reports, a medical professional was sued by a former patient who claimed that problems during surgery left her deformed and with chronic pain in one arm. The problems, the plaintiff alleged, stemmed from inadequate care during a collarbone surgery on the left side of her body. According to the complaint filed with the court that initiated the suit, the defendant-doctor performed a “carpal tunnel release” and an “open reduction internal fixation” on the plaintiff’s left clavicle. The idea was that the work would help relieve pressue and pain along the nerve in the wrist. The operation also involved repairing bones in the area with artificial implants.
Unfortunately, instead of improving her situation and relieving pain, according to the patient the operation only made things worse. And she suggests that probems during the operation are the cause. In particular, the complaint explains that, in the middle of the procedure the doctor determined that there was a problem with one of the bones. To correct this he attempted to screw in a six inch metal plate into the left side of the woman’s upper body. Unfortunately, because of poor bone condition, he was unable to screw the plate to the clavicle. Instead of recogonzing the lack of feasibility of completing the operation in this case, the doctor plunged ahead. He kept the metal plate in the body and tried to keep it in place with sutures instead of screws.
This decision proved incredibly harmful for the woman. According to the complaint the sutures “acted like a saw” and literally cut one end of the collarbone off inside her body. The doctor acknowledged this in a follow-up visit but explained that the snapped bone was caused by it’s poor condition, not the sutures. All of this caused the woman continual extreme pain, and she has lost significant mobility in the arm.
The family eventually filed a medical malpractice lawsuit alleging negligence and seeking accountability for the long-term harm caused by the surgical error. Even though the suit was filed last October, it is only now that a trial date has been set–for September of next year. This is a testament to the lengthy time-frames of many of these cases. Also, it is unclear if the case will actually go to trial, because on many occassions families and medicla professionals are able to come to an agreement on fair compensation without the need to go to trial.
Surgical errors are far too common with far-reaching consequences on the lives of the patients and their families. If you or someone you know may have been harmed by inadequate care during a surgery, please reach out to our lawyers to see how we can help.
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