Our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys know that Illinois surgical errors are some of the most damaging types of medical mistakes. Any time that a patient is put under or has their body opened up, as in a surgical procedure, the potential consequences of mistakes are life threatening. Far too many local residents continue to be victimized by these mistakes. It remains absolutely vital for those victims and their families to maintain the full ability to seek compensation for their losses with the option of sharing their story with a jury if necessary. Sadly, some of those hurt by these mistakes are not given a full and fair opportunity to hold their wrongdoers accountable.
Of course the problem exists not just in our area but throughout the country. For example, the Star-Telegram reported late last week on one man’s continued fight for justice. The victim was 20 years old when he went into a local medical hospital for what was intended to be a fairly routine laparoscopic surgery to have his gallbladder removed. The man went to a military hospital because he was at the time-and still is-an airman for the U.S. military.
The fact that the surgery was being done laparoscopically means that it should have been less invasive than normal surgery. He was not even expected to have to stay at the hospital overnight. Unfortunately, the surgery went awry. When the man’s resident physician was trying to insert a port into the victim’s abdomen, the doctor accidentally sliced the aorta just above where it splits to provide blood to the lower extremities. The cut caused the man to begin gushing blood internally. The attending physician took over following the surgical error. Upon learning that the man had no blood pressure, the surgeon was forced to open the victim’s entire abdomen, find the tear, and begin fixing the problem. He ultimately lost 3.5 liters of blood before surgeons were able to clamp the artery.
The man was rushed to an intensive care unit. While there, his legs began showing clear visual signs of turning white then blue. Medical personnel could not measure the blood flow into the man’s legs. However, nothing was done for the next three and a half hours. Doctors then made plans to transfer him to another hospital. However the transport helicopter arrived nearly an hour later and didn’t take off until an hour and a half after it arrived. When the surgeon at the civilian hospital finally saw the man, he told his family that there was a good chance he may not survive. The civilian surgeons repaired the aorta at which point blood finally began flowing back into the man’s legs. However, there had been too much time delay. The legs had essentially died and needed to be removed.
Unfortunately, because of the oft-discussed “Feres Doctrine,” the victim in this case has had trouble holding anyone accountable for this medical malpractice. Military doctors are essentially immune from liability, no matter how egregious or damaging their errors. Many advocates have long called for the repeal of this doctrine, with cases like this one offering a clear indication of why the rules need to be changed.
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