A woman in Alabama is finally receiving compensation for a botched biopsy surgery. The patient, arrived at the hospital in 2007 expecting to undergo a biopsy procedure she was familiar with after having breast cancer removed from her right breast a few years prior to that time. Leading up to the procedure the patient was given a pre-surgery medication typically used as a light sedative or to calm anxiety.
After the initial medication, the nurse placed a mark on the patient’s left breast. The patient quickly alerted the nurse that the mark was not aligned with the location of the cyst that needed removal. The nurse casually brushed the comment to the side and said the mark was only meant to tell the surgeon which breast to operate on. Given the trivial nature of the marking the patient then requested to draw a smiley face in the same spot. After the drawings were complete the nurse administered a heavy intravenous sedative at which time the patient was rendered unconscious.
The surgical preparations proceeded as usual; the patient was draped for operation and wheeled to the operating room. What happened inside the room in terms of communication between hospital staff members is fuzzy. When the patient awoke in recoup she learned that the surgeon in fact operated at the site of the mark and thus had not removed the cyst that prompted operation in the first place.
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Once the patient informed hospital employees that the cyst was still in her breast she was whisked back into the operating room for a second surgery. During the second procedure the cyst was successfully removed and it was determined to be non-cancerous. The nature of the cyst however, was not the end of the problem for the victim.
Eight days after surgery the patient required hospitalization for a severe infection that developed at the surgical site. As a result of the infection the patient underwent multiple subsequent surgeries to ensure proper healing. In total she remained hospitalized for 10 days and she required extensive medical treatment during that time to ward off more dangerous infections.
A jury returned a verdict in the victim’s favor awarding her $106,026 for her losses. Based on evidence presented in court it appears as though proper procedure would require a surgeon to make the markings while the patient was still conscious. Methods and standards for medical procedures can vary from state to state and even sometimes from facility to facility.
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The important thing in this case is that the doctors or care providers should be held responsible for mistakes that cause medical danger to patients. Medical malpractice laws are intended to protect patients against dangerous accidents. Theoretically medical malpractice laws incentivize doctors to be more cautious during treatment which in turn leads to quality care that patients can rely on.
Fortunately the victim recovered completely from the medical mishap during her surgery, but the outcome is not always so promising. Textbook examples of medical procedures gone wrong tell the stories of plaintiffs who fare worse. For example, notorious incidents include amputating the wrong limb or leaving surgical tools inside the body.
As a patient you should not have to tolerate serious medical mistakes. If you or a loved one is injured during a medical procedure or in the course of treatment you should reach out to a medical malpractice attorney at your earliest convenience. A timely legal claim can help you to recover financially for the hardships caused by the error.