Medical Verdicts

Medical Verdicts

NOTABLE JUDGMENTS AND SETTLEMENTS IN BRIEF


 

Vocal cord, carpal tunnel damage alleged after cystectomy complications

Bronx County (NY) Supreme Court

A 37-year-old woman underwent laparoscopic surgery for removal of an ovarian cyst. After the cyst was removed, the patient had hypotension and tachycardia. She received 12 blood transfusions but her condition did not improve.

Exploratory surgery after internal bleeding was diagnosed revealed a lacerated abdominal artery. After the artery was repaired, the patient’s condition still did not improve. A dye-injection procedure showed another arterial laceration, which was repaired during a third surgery.

Plaintiff claims. In suing, the woman claimed the lacerations were caused by improper insertion of the trocar. In addition she claimed she had an allergic reaction to the blood transfusions, which caused respiratory distress and the need to be intubated.

According to the patient, the intubation caused permanent paralysis of her vocal cords. Additionally, she contended she developed carpal tunnel syndrome as a result of prolonged bed rest.

The patient maintained that her condition warranted emergency exploratory surgery and that the physician should have repaired both lacerations during the initial surgery.

Defense. The physician argued that arterial lacerations are a well-known risk factor of laparoscopic surgery and that he treated both lacerations appropriately.

He also contended that the patient’s vocal cords were not paralyzed and that she did not have carpal tunnel syndrome.

  • The jury returned a defense verdict.

Did delayed c-section damage twins’ kidneys?

Queens County (NY) Supreme Court

A 27-year-old woman at 28 weeks’ gestation with a twin pregnancy presented to the hospital complaining of painful vaginal bleeding. Fetal heart monitor tracings revealed a sinusoidal pattern. Fifty minutes later, twin girls were delivered by cesarean section. Both girls were born with kidney problems. One twin died from renal failure 6 weeks later. The other twin survived but suffers from chronic kidney problems.

The mother claimed the girls’ kidney problems were caused by the obstetrician’s delay in performing the cesarean section. The physicians acknowledged that a sinusoidal pattern is an emergency, but contended that the kidney problems were caused by a congenital defect that caused prenatal complications, which resulted in the sinusoidal pattern. The obstetrician claimed the 50-minute delay was caused by the anesthesiologist’s need to perform necessary setup procedures.

  • The case settled for $1.5 million, including $250,000 for the wrongful death of the other twin.

$3 million in punitive damages follows fatal hysterectomy

Lubbock County (Tex) District Court

A 36-year-old woman with a history of pain and endometriosis underwent laparoscopic hysterectomy. After she was transferred from recovery to the hospital floor, a decrease in her urinary output was noted. A fluid challenge test, hemoglobin, and hematocrit levels were ordered. The patient’s hemoglobin level was 9.8 g/dL, and she remained oliguric after the fluid challenge test. Because the physician was in surgery, the patient’s status was reported to him via his voice mail, which he did not check. When the patient’s blood pressure decreased, the physician was called again.

The patient vomited and aspirated and suffered hypoxic brain injury and organ damage. She was removed from life support a few days later.

In suing, the plaintiff’s representatives claimed the physician did not monitor the tests that were ordered and failed to check the patient after finishing his other surgery. They also claimed that the communication between the physician and hospital staff was deficient and that the nurses had difficulty reaching the doctor.

The physician countered that the nurses failed to properly monitor the patient and report changes in her status.

  • The jury awarded the plaintiff $14 million (the physician paid 75% of this amount, which included $3 million in punitive damages; the hospital was responsible for 25%).

Trocar angle blamed for perforated bladder

Philadelphia County (Pa) Common Pleas Court

Two days after undergoing laparoscopic tubal ligation, a woman had blood in her urine, abdominal pain, and vomiting. She was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with a perforated bladder.

Although the patient’s condition seemed to improve after 2 days, she suffered severe respiratory distress and was moved to the ICU. Exploratory laparotomy revealed necrotizing tissue surrounding the perforated bladder. A severe infection ensued and the patient remained unconscious in the ICU for 2 weeks. She eventually recovered and was discharged.

In suing, the woman asserted that the surgeon improperly inserted a second trocar at a downward angle toward the bladder rather than at an upward angle to reach the fallopian tubes.

The physician contended that bladder perforation can occur during tubal ligation and that he had informed the woman of this risk before the operation.

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