Surgical Error Results in $4.8 Million Verdict

A jury in Vermilion County awarded over $4.8 million to the family of a Danville woman who filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against a local physician and Danville Polyclinic. The lawsuit claimed that Dr. Muthiah Thangavelu’s conduct was negligent and resulted in injuries to Linda Shelly that would otherwise have been avoidable

Shelly underwent a procedure to remove a cyst in her abdomen, but during the procedure Thangavelu cut and removed a portion of Shelly’s right ureter. This eventually led to permanent and severe injuries, and ultimately, the loss of Shelly’s right kidney.

Shelly passed away after struggling with the resulting injury for six and a half years. The lawsuit was filed in November 2010 and was finally brought to jury trial on March 18. After three hours of deliberating, the jurors awarded Shelly’s estate $4,844,391 for pain and suffering, medical expenses, loss of normal life expectancy, and emotional distress for her family.

Surgical Errors and Medical Malpractice

While we would like to think that surgical errors are uncommon, there are still several types of errors that can occur. Here are five of the most common surgical mistakes:

  • Surgery on the Wrong Site: This happens when surgery is performed on the wrong body part or organ.
  • Unnecessary Surgery: This is when a patient is subjected to surgery that was unneeded.
  • Infection: Using unsanitary instruments can lead to an infection, especially if the patient already has a compromised immune system.
  • Leaving Surgical Instruments in the Body: This occurs when surgical instruments such as sponges, gauze, and other instruments are left inside the body.
  • Damage to Internal Organs or Nerves: During surgery nearby organs and nerves can be damaged creating severe and lasting health complications.

Legal Claims Following Surgical Errors

Surgery errors are sometimes obvious soon after surgery, but other mistakes may be more subtle. For example, if a surgical sponge is left inside a patient, it can take several days or weeks for the patient to start exhibiting symptoms. This does not, however, mean that the doctor is any less responsible for failing to exercise reasonable care during the surgery.

Regardless of whether the mistake was malicious in any way or not, if the error could have been avoided if due diligence and care was taken, it could still justify a medical malpractice claim. The steps to proving a medical malpractice claim include establishing the standard of care, show that the surgeon failed to follow those standards, and then ultimately show that the surgeon’s failure to follow the standards injured the patient.

Contact an Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney Today

Surgical errors can result in huge medical expenses as well as loss of wages and extensive follow up treatments. In some cases, the health of the patient may be permanently impacted and in rare cases, the patient may even die as a result of the error. In the final situation, the family of the patient may be able to file a wrongful death claim.

If you or your loved one has been the victim of surgical errors or other types of medical malpractice, you need to speak with an attorney. The attorneys at Newland & Newland LLP will review your situation and help you understand your legal rights and options. We serve the Arlington Heights, Palatine, Rolling Meadows, Libertyville, Mundelein, Buffalo Grove, Schaumburg, Elk Grove, and Itasca areas, so contact us today to schedule a consultation.

(image courtesy of Hush Naidoo)

  • Newland & Newland LLP, Attorneys, Arlington Heights, IL
  • Lawyer.com