Articles Posted in Surgical Errors

In this medical malpractice lawsuit, injuries were suffered by the plaintiff, Lisa Swift, during a 2010 laparoscopic hysterectomy by the defendant Dr. David J. Schleicher. During this surgical procedure, Dr. Schleicher perforated Swift’s small bowel with three through-and-through holes. The doctor chose not to diagnose the perforations until four days after the surgery. Swift developed sepsis, needed a bowel resection surgery and then suffered additional complications that required hospitalization and home health care.

In addition to Dr. Schleicher, Swedish American Health System Corp. and its related companies were also made defendants. These defendants admitted that they caused the injury but argued that the injuries were not the result of negligence. At the end of the jury trial, the jury agreed with defendants and found in favor of them and against Swift.

The plaintiff Swift filed a motion for a new trial, which was denied by the trial court. As a result, Swift took an appeal arguing that the trial judge committed reversible error by (1) allowing evidence that plaintiff’s expert, Dr. Robert Dein, caused a bowel injury in 1989; (2) allowed cumulative defense testimony; and (3) declined to find the verdict against the manifest weight of the evidence.
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Lynne Niemynski, 63, suffered from stress incontinence. She saw Dr. Arthur Thorpe Jr. a gynecologist, who recommended a transobturator urethral sling to improve her condition. She underwent this procedure.

However, for the next nine months, she complained of worsening symptoms, including bladder spasms, discharge and bleeding. Even with application of creams and other medications, her symptoms continued on.

Niemynski finally met with another gynecologist who examined her bladder and discovered a section of surgical mesh that had golf-ball sized crystalline stone growing from it.
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James P. McKillip underwent a sleeve gastrectomy for weight reduction at a hospital in Rock Island, Ill. This took place in January 2012 by the defendant general surgeon, Dr. James Schrier. McKillip was 46 years old at the time.

According to the report of this jury trial, McKillip’s expert testified at trial that Dr. Schrier improperly stapled the nasogastric tube into McKillip’s stomach and also was negligent in creating a hole at the junction between the esophagus and his stomach.

As a result, McKillip suffered from two large perforations and gastric leaks at these two sites in the stomach, which caused him to develop sepsis and undergo three months of antibiotic therapy. Eventually he will require additional surgery to remove the remaining portion of his stomach.
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Ezekiel Flores, 89, was admitted to MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn, Ill., in January 2013 for complaints of leg pain. While he was there, an abdominal CT scan came back with abnormal results, which led the doctors to suspect possible colon cancer over diverticulitis.

The defendant gastroenterologist, Dr. Manuel Alva, did a colonoscopy on Jan. 11, 2013. It showed there was no cancer. However, during the procedure Flores sustained a perforated colon, which led to nearly fatal sepsis, a colostomy for eleven months and later a colonostomy reversal surgery in combination totaled medical expenses of $201,950.

Flores maintained at this jury trial that he refused to undergo the colonoscopy several times but the defendants, the physicians, persisted and persuaded him to do so without fully disclosing the risks and alternatives and thus choosing not to obtain Flores’s informed consent.
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Nerisa Williams was 43 years old when she underwent a hysterectomy that was completed by her gynecologist, Dr. Kenneth Baker. During the surgery, Dr. Baker unknowingly transected or cut Williams’s ureter. The ureter is made up of two tubes of smooth muscle fibers that propel urine from the kidneys to the urinary bladder in an adult. The ureters are paired and described as muscular ducts with narrow openings that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder.

Because of the transection of the ureter, Williams developed permanent urinary incontinence.

She sued Dr. Baker, alleging that his negligent conduct in the surgery led to the need for a second surgery, which caused even more medical complications.
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Elizabeth McNamara was 63 when she underwent a right hip replacement that was done by an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. David Weissberg. After the surgery, she developed right foot drop and was diagnosed as having an injured peroneal nerve.

McNamara continued to suffer the foot drop and numbness in her right leg — problems that caused her to fall and necessitated the use of a leg brace for walking and modifications to her car so that she was able to drive.

McNamara and her husband filed a lawsuit against Dr. Weissberg, maintaining that the nerve injury resulted from either his misplacement of a surgical retractor or application of excessive force on the right leg during the surgery.
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The Maryland State Appellate Court has ruled that the trial judge was correct in deciding whether a patient’s negligence lawsuit, that of Yolanda Harris, would go forward against a women’s health clinic even after she dropped claims against her doctor, the agent to the clinic.

The Maryland Court of Specials Appeals said that Harris did not forfeit her right to a lawsuit against Women First OB/GYN Associates LLC when she voluntarily dropped all claims against the clinic’s physician, Dr. McMillan who was alleged to have committed malpractice in a hysterectomy procedure for Ms. Harris.

It was ruled that the judgment against Women First could stand even though the clinic’s negligence was based entirely on Dr. McMillan’s acts or omissions. The legal issue on appeal was whether the principal, Women First, could be held liable for the acts of its agent, Dr. McMillan, who had already been voluntarily dismissed.
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Holly Mozzone, 39, underwent a bursectomy and a repair to her labrum; surgery was performed by orthopedic surgeon Dr. Gary Hunter. During the surgical procedure, Dr. Hunter placed a screw into her shoulder joint instead of on the limb of the joint.

As a result of this mistake, she developed mechanical and range-of-motion problems that necessitated 18 months of physical therapy. She was unable to continue working as a nursing assistant and now works as a flight attendant.

Mozzon filed a lawsuit against Dr. Hunter claiming liability for placing the screw during the operation in the shoulder joint instead of in the rim of the joint. That displacement of the surgical screw was the cause of her shoulder problems. The jury awarded $188,000 plus $150,000 in attorney fees.

Helen Manfredi, 85, underwent right colectomy surgery at Loyola University Hospital because of her colon cancer. She also had a large pre-existing hiatal hernia that was asymptomatic.

During the colectomy surgery, the surgeon decided to reduce the stomach organ, but the hernia was not repaired.

Four days after the colectomy surgery, April 29, 2011, Manfredi suddenly became unresponsive and required emergency surgery, which showed the stomach had become incarcerated with ischemia of portions of the stomach lining.
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In this case, a manufacturer, Intuitive Surgical Inc., sold a surgical device, the robotic surgical system, to a hospital, Harrison Medical Center, which credentialed some of its physicians to perform surgery with the device. The surgical device is a robotic surgery tool called the “da Vinci System.”

At the trial, an expert urologist for Josette Taylor, the wife of Fred E. Taylor who died four years after undergoing a failed prostatectomy surgery by the robotic device, opined that the surgeons must be credentialed in order to use the da Vinci System. The doctor testified that the da Vinci robotic surgical system is one of the most complex devices used in surgical procedures.

The manufacturer’s warnings regarding that device were at the heart of this case: whether the manufacturer owed a duty to warn the hospital that purchased the device. The manufacturer argued that since it warned the physician who performed the surgery, it had no duty to warn any other party.
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