jury awards 3 million in postoperative negligence case

When a 37-year-old man died shortly after surgery for a duodenal ulcer, his family sued the doctors who treated him and the hospital where the surgery took place. After a two-week trial, a jury in Alabama found that the doctors and the hospital had committed medical malpractice, and awarded the family $3 million in damages. 

The man’s duodenal ulcer surgery was performed in January of 2006. Soon after the surgery was completed, though, the man needed multiple blood transfusions. The family argued that the man was sent home too soon, without the proper follow-up care that he needed, and that this was postoperative negligence.

Within days, the man died at home. An autopsy report showed that he bled to death. “Exsanguination in the artery” was the official cause of death in the report.

At trial, the plaintiffs presented evidence that the man was sent home with a very low blood count and that he was not adequately examined by the attending physician before he was discharged.

The hospital and doctors argued that they provided full and proper care; however, the jury deliberated for only three hours before finding in favor of the patient’s family. Not surprisingly, the defendants disagreed with the verdict and said they would most likely appeal the decision.

Pennsylvania medical malpractice attorneys see situations like this one on a regular basis. This story is a strong reminder that not all surgical care is provided during an operation. The quality of care provided after the procedure can be just as important. In this case, medical negligence in the form of inadequate postoperative care proved to be just as deadly as any mistake made in the operating room.

Source: al.com “Birmingham man’s family wins $3 million in wrongful death suit” 2/13/2011

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