Even relatively routine surgical procedures can go horribly wrong, producing serious or even fatal complications, if doctors and other medical personnel don't handle the problem properly. That's what happened when a 36-year-old Illinois woman died during a hysterectomy at a Peoria hospital in 2013.
Suit: Internal Bleeding Went Unaddressed for 2 Hours
During "what was supposed to be an outpatient deal," according to her father, one of the woman's arteries was lacerated by the tip of an instrument being used during the robotically-enhanced procedure. However, it was being controlled by one of the surgeons. According to the suit, the woman bled internally for two hours before action was taken.
The certified registered nurse who was administering anesthesia during the procedure said that when she noticed the patient's blood pressure fluctuate and then drop, she summoned her supervisor. They testified that they both informed the surgeon that they believed the woman might be bleeding internally.
However, the medical experts called in by the plaintiffs' attorney still faulted the anesthesia team for not bringing in blood to transfuse the patient. By the time action was taken to stem the bleeding and transfuse the patient, it was too late. Although the nurse was named in the suit along with two doctors and the hospital, Methodist Medical Center, she was not found liable by the jury.
Largest Wrongful Death Verdict in County's History
Jurors took less than five hours to come back with a wrongful death verdict. They awarded over $5 million to the woman's widower and her three teenage children. That was considerably less than the $12.5 million sought in the suit. However, according to the family's attorney, it's still the largest verdict in a wrongful death case ever awarded in Tazewell County, where the case was heard.
The victim's father said that the money will help take care of his grandchildren. However, their attorney said that more significant to the family is the validation by the jury that a wrongful death occurred and that the responsible parties were held accountable.
It often takes some investigation to determine whether a person's injury or death during a medical procedure was the result of negligence or error as opposed to a complication that was unavoidable. However, medical malpractice attorneys know how to determine whether a medical professional breached the duty of care owed to a patient and whether that breach caused the injury or death.
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