case of circumcision gone wrong settles for 46 million

A serious medical malpractice suit was recently settled for $4.6 million. The case involved the circumcision of a one-week-old boy. The defendant was the maker of a clamp that was used in the procedure. The doctor who performed the operation was originally a defendant, but the case against him was later dropped.

The parents of the boy claimed in their medical malpractice lawsuit that the clamp’s design was defective. Because of the defect, the doctor could not see, and could not vizualize, the location of the head of the baby’s penis when the foreskin was being removed. As a result, the doctor cut off part of the penis, instead of the only the foreskin.

The boy, who is now eight years old, had 85 percent of the top of his penis cut off in the failed operation. His prognosis is that he will need yearly visits to a pediatric urologist, he will need corrective surgeries, perhaps many, and he will need ongoing psychiatric care because of the original event and the additional surgeries.

Pennsylvania medical malpractice attorneys noted in the news reports of the case that the lawyers who brought the lawsuit for the family and reached the settlement made a point of saying that some of the primary goals of the lawsuit were to remove the defective clamp from use, to publicize the danger posed by the defective clamp, and to prevent possible widespread future injury to other children. Far too often, reports about medical malpractice lawsuits leave out this important goal. A focus on the amount of money obtained in a lawsuit obscures the broader goal of protecting others from harm.

There are some who might believe — or who might try to convince the public — that since medical malpractice cases can involve millions of dollars, victims of negligence are trying to profit from their situation. It is important to recall that malpractice frequently causes medical complications that are extremely expensive to treat. Compensation for medical expenses represents no profit for the victim whatsoever.

Victims of medical malpractice deserve compensation for their injuries, and far too frequently the only way to obtain that compensation is through a lawsuit. It is a mistake, though, to think that the motivation for a lawsuit is always or only about fair compensation for the individual victim. Very often, medical malpractice lawsuits are filed, at least in part, to prevent harm to other potential victims.

Source: Press-Telegram “Boy’s botched circumcision leads to $4.6 million award” 7/18/2011

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