MS COLLINS is an attorney specializing in medical malpractice in Long Beach, California. She welcomes feedback on this column via e-mail. Click on the envelope icon to email.
In the lawsuit, the physician was accused of not timely responding to the information that there was no urine returned after catheterization.
A Florida man was admitted to a hospital in 2007 for testing and possible treatment for a suspected heart condition. The physician ordered a urinary catheter insertion with a catheter of a certain size; however, a different size catheter was used and when a blockage in the urethra was encountered, the catheter was forced forward. There was no return of urine after the insertion and the physician was notified of this finding. The forceful insertion of the catheter caused a penetrating injury through the wall of the urethra that led to massive bleeding into the peritoneal cavity and ultimately death due to the hemorrhage.
In the lawsuit that followed, the physician was accused of not timely responding to the information that there was no urine returned after catheterization.
The physician claimed that he was informed about the non-return of urine but denied any negligence on his part for the hemorrhage and subsequent death. A defense verdict was returned. Continue to next page for further cases.
A 26-year-old man went to a Washington hospital in 2008 for repair of a recurrent inguinal hernia. After the operation, the patient’s left testicle lost blood flow and became non-functional due to ischemia.
In the lawsuit that followed, the man alleged that an improper technique was used and that he was discharged without sufficient testing and assessment.
The defense claimed that testicular loss is a known risk of this procedure and a defense verdict was returned with an award of costs for $7,500.
LEGAL PERSPECTIVE: There are still many malpractice cases filed where the alleged negligence is that a known complication to a particular procedure has occurred, even when the patient was informed and consented to the procedure knowingly, and often there is minimal injury to the patient and little or no long-term damages. The issues in these lawsuits are usually the timely recognition of the complication and the appropriate management of it that could mitigate any injury to the patient. In this particular case, the physician proposed that the patient had a higher risk of complications due to his history and coexisting medical conditions, which included both smoking and obesity.
While the report does not state exactly what the jury findings were, it seems they were somewhat sympathetic to the defense’s position and may have believed the patient had some responsibility in increasing his risk of complications.
An Illinois woman was 43 years of age when she was admitted to a hospital in 2004 with abdominal pain, distension, and bloody stools following a recent colonoscopy. A surgeon performed an exploratory laparotomy to determine the cause of her symptoms. No abnormalities were found, but her symptoms worsened and she was subsequently transferred to another hospital, where she died a few days later. An autopsy found her death to be due to overwhelming sepsis caused by pyelonephritis.
A lawsuit was filed against the surgeon, claiming the operation performed was unnecessary and that he was negligent in failing to diagnose the kidney infection causing her death.
The physician denied any negligence in performing an exploratory laparotomy under the circumstances presented, and a defense verdict was returned. A previous trial in this same case also resulted in a defense verdict for this physician.
A Florida child was seen by a pediatrician from her birth in 2000 through 2006. She had abnormal protein in her urine from the age of 1 to 3 years, eventually suffered from kidney failure, and underwent a kidney transplant at the age of 6½ years.
In the lawsuit filed against the pediatrician, negligence was alleged in the failure to follow up on the abnormal proteinuria over several years.
The physician maintained that there was a urinalysis that had been reported as normal during this time and thus no follow-up was necessary. The parents countered that the reportedly “normal” urinalysis never took place and that it would have been medically impossible to have a normal urinalysis. The jury returned a verdict for the child and awarded $3,831,476.UT
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