In a New York medical malpractice case that has been in trial for over a month, the now 33-year-old plaintiff alleges that in the fall of 2009, the surgeon who performed her laparoscopic procedure for an ectopic pregnancy in a Long Island, New York hospital was negligent by perforating her colon during the procedure, which led to sepsis and gangrene that necessitated amputation of both of her feet at her ankles, followed later by amputations of both of her legs below the knee.
The woman spent 73 days in the Intensive Care Unit during which time she suffered cardiac arrest on three occasions; her legs were amputated on the 64th day. She required skin grafts and had a colostomy. The vast amounts of antibiotics used to treat her life-threatening infection caused her to suffer hearing loss.
During the defense opening statement before the New York medical malpractice jury in early November 2013, the defendants’ attorney told the jury, “Ms. Galette is alive today because the health care providers at Winthrop University Hospital listened to her complaints … and made adjustments to her treatment. Ms. Galette has made on many fronts a remarkable recovery. She certainly will be able to work. The colostomy can be reversed. She can still have a productive life. Unfortunately, the treatment she needed had very serious side effects.”
The defendants (the hospital and six physicians) deny that the woman’s colon was perforated during the surgical procedure and claim that an underlying bowel condition caused the perforation sometime after the surgery. In the alternative, the defendants argue that even if the perforation of the woman’s colon occurred during her surgery, it was a known risk of the surgery and was not as a result of medical negligence.
The woman testified during her medical malpractice trial on December 3, 2013 that she had “a sharp, driving pain. And it kept getting worse” after her surgery that radiated from her stomach up to her chest but was nonetheless discharged from the hospital and sent home three days later. The unrelenting pain caused her to return to the hospital the next day and she had emergency surgery on October 10, 2009.
The woman further testified, “Next thing I remember was in November, when I woke up in the ICU. I was having pain in my legs. I thought it’s from pressure cuffs that were on my legs. I told my dad to release the pressure cuffs off my legs, and my dad told me it’s not pressure cuffs — that my legs had to be amputated. I was crying. I was upset because I had my daughter [now 13-years-old]. I couldn’t take care of my daughter the way I used to. I cried every day in the hospital from depression.”
Now, its the defendants turn to present their defenses.
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