Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Failure to follow procedure leads to patient's brain injury?

A 19-year old man was brought into the hospital after being accidentally shot in the jaw. Though the patient's airway passage was reportedly still obstructed, the doctors decided to go ahead with surgery in any case. However, since the anesthesiologist apparently did not follow regular procedures, the breathing tube was accidentally dislodged and the patient was left without oxygen for close to 7 or 8 minutes.

A medical malpractice claim has since been brought against the anesthesiologist and physician's assistant, and due to what appears to be irreversible brain injury for the young man the jury returned a verdict of $17.5 million.

 

According to the attorney for the family, there had been ample time for the medical staff to react to restore the flow of oxygen and prevent brain damage from occurring. In almost all brain injury cases where medical malpractice is alleged, the damage was likely a result of oxygen deprivation.

These sorts of mistakes have been made before, and that's why medical procedures for conducting surgery are in place. It's somewhat more understandable the first time a particular type of mistake is made. It becomes more unforgivable when such mistakes are made over and over again.

A $17.5 million verdict is extremely understandable when one understands the devastation that comes about due to this kind of medical error. Before the surgery, we likely have an otherwise healthy 19-year old man. After the surgery, he is now helpless and unable to function on his own.

Whether a medical error occurs in Pennsylvania or any other state, attorneys representing victims of medical malpractice need to particularly skilled in their craft because hospitals and insurers will do all they can to avoid paying this sort of verdict. Though medical negligence may seem obvious on its face, attorneys still have to prove that any negligence caused the injury to the patient.

Source: Atlanta Daily World, "Grady Hospital Slapped with $17.5 Million Malpractice Verdict," April 28, 2013

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