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Incubation mistake results in brain damage for 19-year old man

A 19-year old patient was admitted to the hospital after being struck in the jaw by a stray bullet. The doctors then apparently decided to perform surgery, though they were informed that the patient's airway passage was still partially swollen and obstructed. However, since it has been alleged that the anesthesiologist did not follow proper procedures concerning extubation, the patient accidentally dislodged the endotracheal tube and left the patient without oxygen for 7 to 8 minutes.

The family of the young man brought a lawsuit against the anesthesiologist and physician's assistant concerning the brain injuries that the patient suffered. The jury for the medical malpractice lawsuit then returned a $17.5 million verdict.

The attorney for the family stated in closing arguments that records showed there was time to prevent this sort of injury from occurring. It appears from what was reported that an otherwise healthy young man is now suffering from severe brain damage that is likely irreversible.

Procedures are put in place largely because medical errors have occurred in the past. Yet when these procedures are not followed, there is a great likelihood that history will repeat itself. Medical science is an ever changing field. What may have been acceptable practices forty years ago are no longer acceptable today because specific types of errors are well-known.

Though $17.5 million may seem like a very large verdict, it must be remembered that what occurred in many senses took the life of a 19-year old individual. Also, a verdict itself is not the end of this matter as attorneys for hospitals may attempt to appeal the verdict. That's why attorneys representing victims of medical malpractice need to have remarkable talent and perseverance.

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

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