Case #1104: Surgical Errors
A woman who experienced lower extremity paralysis following a bypass procedure claimed her treating surgeons negligently caused her injury. The defendants denied liability and claimed they acted within the standard of care. A Harford County jury found for the plaintiff and awarded her $3,557,398 against two surgeons and their employer. Defense verdicts were entered for an anesthesiologist and his employer.
The plaintiff presented to the medical center for a scheduled aortofemoral bypass procedure. The defendants were the two surgeons responsible for performing the procedure. As a result of the surgical complications, the plaintiff suffered a spinal cord injury that resulted in permanent lower extremity paralysis with loss of mobility.
The plaintiff alleged that the paralysis was the result of massive blood loss during the procedure and the loss was caused by a size disparity between her aorta and the graft placed by the defendants. The plaintiff asserted a medical malpractice claim in which she claimed the defendants used an improper grafting technique and their surgical treatment was below the standard of care required. The plaintiff submitted the post-operative report of the defendant in support of her claim. The report, which was prepared 15 days following the surgery, indicated that the graft used was too big for the aorta.
The defendants disputed liability and maintained that the plaintiff’s care, including the grafting technique used, was reasonable and appropriate. The defendants specifically denied the plaintiff’s paralysis was the result of blood loss, but instead maintained that the complication was a well- documented risk of the procedure caused by clamping the aorta. The defendants further testified that the medical reports submitted by the plaintiff were incorrect. The hospital and another anesthesiologist were initially named in this suit, but were dismissed prior to trial.