Surgical procedure apparently led to brain injury

Many brain injury cases that are a result of errors occurring during surgical procedures. One such case has now led to a $1.9 million verdict for the widow of a man that died three days after surgery – presumably due to brain damage suffered as a result of errors that occurred during the procedure.

During an esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) procedure, the patient began to retch and to bleed into his lungs. As no intubation (the insertion of a tube to open the airway) had been conducted prior to the actual surgery taking place, it took almost 7 minutes for an intubation to take place after the patient had begun experiencing these problems. Then, shortly after the procedure, the patient’s heart stopped and he developed brain damage due to a lack of oxygen.

Apparently, the risks of the procedure were never discussed with the patient. Also, one of the hospital employees had testified that they were unaware that the patient had previously suffered what is called a Mallory-Weiss tear, and that there was the risk of aspiration (the entry of foreign substances into the respiration system) for patients that have suffered such a tear.

It is because these medical matters are so complex to begin with that those injured by medical mistakes will generally require the assistance of attorneys experienced in medical malpractice cases to seek compensation. Just to get a hospital employee to testify that a possible mistake was made would require a very broad understanding as to how such medical mistakes can come about.

Though the verdict returned was $1.9 million, the widow will likely receive much less than this because of medical caps placed on verdicts in the state where the malpractice purportedly took place. Unfortunately, legislators that put such caps in place do not always understand how catastrophic medical mistakes can be.

Source: Outpatient Surgery, “Jury Awards Widow $1.9M in Intubation Case,” Feb. 27, 2013