Articles Posted in Surgical Errors

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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George Hand, 63, developed incontinence and a swollen prostate. He consulted with urologist Dr. Gilbert Gonzalez who suggested using transurethral microwave therapy to heat up the prostate and cause it to shrink.

During the transurethral microwave therapy procedure, Dr. Gonzalez placed the transurethral device and then left the room. The medical technician who took over for the doctor continued the procedure, which burned a hole through Hand’s rectum and urethra, causing a great deal of pain. Ice was applied to alleviate Hand’s pain, but Dr. Gonzalez did not stop the procedure.

As a result of the injury suffered in this errant therapy procedure, Hand developed a fistula, which necessitated a colostomy. Hand is now permanently incontinent and impotent. He was a truck driver earning about $52,000 per year but has now lost his job due to his inability to drive after his injuries.
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Annabelle Glasgow, who was 71 years old, suffered from diabetes, hypertension and congestive heart failure. She was admitted to Temple University Hospital to undergo bilateral total knee replacements to be done by orthopedic surgeon Dr. Easwaran Balasubramanian. She developed pain at the incision site, swelling and drainage. In spite of these conditions, she was discharged from the hospital within 3 weeks after the bilateral total knee replacements.

After a follow-up appointment with Dr. Balasubramanian, she underwent an irrigation and debridement of her right knee. The cultures taken from that procedure revealed that she had a bacterial infection. She continued to have excessive drainage in the right knee and developed a pressure ulcer on her right heel.

The pressure sore required another hospitalization and several procedures, which included skin grafting, incision and drainage to address her wound.
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This case arises out of an appeal taken after the Circuit Court of Cook County judge entered judgment on the verdict in favor of Dr. John Pantano and Suburban Lung Associates, S.C. in a medical malpractice action. The lawsuit, brought by the special administrator of the Estate of Viola Morrisroe, claimed that her death occurred after a bronchoscopy during which biopsies were performed by Dr. Pantano. It was asserted that the trial judge was in error for (1) barring Morrisroe’s expert from utilizing two CT scans during his testimony to demonstrate that the size of a mass in her lung had not increased in size; and (2) sustaining defense counsel’s objections to certain statements in plaintiff’s counsel’s closing argument relating to informed consent claim.

In 1999, Morrisroe was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema by pulmonologist Dr. Edward Diamond who was the president of Suburban Lung Associates, S.C. Her medical condition was monitored by Dr. Diamond and, in 2006, she began obtaining routine CT scans. In February 2009, a CT scan of her lungs indicated a new mass had formed in the upper right lobe. Dr. Diamond ordered further testing in the form of a PET scan. The PET scan indicated that, while unlikely, cancer could not be ruled out. Dr. Diamond discussed the results of the scans with her and recommended that another CT scan be performed in four months.

By 2009, Dr. Diamond’s examinations found that Morrisroe’s lung function had significantly decreased. While her lung function was at 40% in the beginning of the year, by the summer her lung function was only 26%, prompting Dr. Diamond to downgrade her COPD from “severe” to “very severe.”
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Sandra Hernandez, 46, underwent a laparoscopic hysterectomy performed by the defendant obstetrician/gynecologist, Dr. Joseph Thomas. The surgery was done at Trinity Hospital in Chicago on March 31, 2010.

During the surgery, Dr. Thomas’s placement of a laparoscopic trocar resulted in lacerations to the iliac artery, iliac vein and small bowel. The iliac arteries are three arteries located in the region of the ilium in the pelvis. The three arteries are the common iliac artery, the external iliac artery and the internal iliac artery. These vessels are located in the pelvic area of the body.

After the lacerations, Hernandez suffered severe abdominal bleeding with massive blood loss leading to cardiac arrest and a call for a code blue resuscitation. Extensive amounts of blood products were administered after which surgery was completed to repair the small bowel and blood vessels.
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Johnna Hunt, 40, underwent an outpatient hysteroscopic D&C that was performed by an obstetrician, Dr. John Kaczmarek. She returned home after this procedure and began to hemorrhage. She was admitted to a local hospital and was diagnosed as having a perforated uterine wall and arterial injuries.

Hunt required a hysterectomy and now suffers from scarring, pain and emotional distress as a result of the injuries she sustained. She filed a medical negligence lawsuit against Dr. Kaczmarek and his medical practice claiming that the doctor chose not to recognize that during the procedure he had not entered her endometrial cavity, negligently perforated her uterine wall and chose not to diagnose this intraoperatively and failed to treat intraoperative bleeding. The lawsuit did not claim any lost income.

The jury entered a verdict in favor of Johnna Hunt in the amount of $500,000. Hunt’s attorney was Timothy P. Pothin.
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