On April 19, 2016, after three hours of deliberations, a Connecticut medical malpractice jury returned its verdict in favor of a woman whose wrong fallopian tube was cut during surgery performed by the defendant surgeon, leading to the 28-year-old woman’s sterility. The Connecticut medical malpractice jury awarded the woman $1.3 million for her noneconomic damages, $190,000 for her medical expenses, and $310,000 for her husband’s loss of consortium claim.
The woman had gone to the hospital on May 16, 2011 at which time she was admitted with pelvic pain on her right side. The differential diagnosis included appendicitis versus infection. An appendectomy was performed by a surgeon on May 23, 2011 during which the defendant surgeon entered the operating room and began operating on an abscess located on the woman’s right fallopian tube.
The defendant surgeon, who had completed her residency just eighteen months earlier, had never performed the type of surgery she attempted on the woman. When the defendant surgeon realized that something was wrong (she had cut the wrong fallopian tube), she called in another surgeon.
As a result of the defendant surgeon’s medical negligence, the woman became infertile and is attempting to conceive a child through in vitro fertilization. She also had to have a second surgical procedure.
The defendants had denied liability (i.e., they denied that there had been a breach of the standard of care) throughout the litigation, only admitting a breach of the standard of care at the end of the Connecticut medical malpractice jury trial. The defendants had previously offered only $100,000 to settle the plaintiffs’ medical malpractice claims.
The defense argued during trial that the woman would likely not have been able to conceive a child due to her infection. The plaintiffs’ experts testified that 85% to 90% of women with the type of infection the woman had were able to become pregnant.
Cutting the wrong structure during surgery is often due to medical negligence (the old carpenter’s adage applies: “measure twice, cut once”). A surgeon can often avoid cutting in the wrong place or cutting the wrong structure by employing established procedures and medical testing that will confirm that the surgeon is in the right place or raise a question whether proceeding to cut is proper. Nonetheless, there may be situations where there was not a breach of the standard of care (medical negligence) due to a patient’s unique, different, or difficult anatomy.
Often, it only after a medical malpractice attorney conducts a complete and proper investigation into what happened and why, relying often on the opinions of medical experts, that the true cause of unexpected harm to a patient is revealed and established.
If you suffered a surgical complication, surgical mistake, or unanticipated medical outcome following surgery that may be the result of medical malpractice, you should promptly seek the advice of a local medical malpractice lawyer in your U.S. state to learn about your rights and responsibilities and whether you may proceed with a claim for compensation for the injuries and harms caused by surgical malpractice.
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