April 7, 2012

Brain Injury Trial Ends Following Allegations of Surgical Error

by Levin & Perconti

When most think about lawsuits and brain injuries, it is traumatic brain injuries that come to mind. These are injuries caused by blunt trauma to the head usually from automobile accidents or falls. They spur lawsuits when the underlying car accident or fall was caused by the negligence of another. Of course car accidents are usually the result of mistakes made when behind the wheels and falls can arise when one doesn’t reasonably keep a location clear of potential fall hazards. Our Illinois traumatic brain injury lawyers work with many individuals who have been hurt in this way.

Yet, brain injury lawsuits can also be sparked in different contexts, including cases of medical malpractice. For example, MLive reported this week on the end of a wrongful trial trial where a family alleged that their mother was killed after suffering a brain injury as a result of mistakes made during what was supposed to be a routine surgery. The victim in this situation was a 66-year old woman who went in to have neck surgery to remove her thyroid and parathyroid glands. Her family was told that the operation did not have any particularly high risks.

Everything seemed to be progressing well at first. The woman was put under anesthesia, the surgery was performed, and she left the operating room with doctors assuming that everything would be fine once she awoke from the anesthesia. Unfortunately, she never did wake up. No matter what doctors did they could not revive her, and she eventually had to be put on life support. About ten days after the surgery her family was forced to make the decision to remove the medical equipment.

It was only later that all of the pieces were put together and it was figured out what went wrong. Apparently after the woman was put under via a general anesthetic, the oxygen tube that was supposed to provide her needed oxygen during the procedure was moved. She could not breathe on her own during the procedure and so with the tube removed, she was in serious trouble. Her brain was deprived of oxygen for a significant period of time, leading to severe brain damage as a result. The complications from that injury ultimately took her life.

The family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the anesthesiologist who was in charge of ensuring the proper use of the anesthetic during the operation. The case went to trial late last month. After all of the evidence was presented the jury deliberated for three days before reaching a verdict in the plaintiff’s favor. They found that the doctor was negligent in the way that he handled the operation which led to the woman’s injury and death. The family was awarded $1.23 million as for their losses. The defendant’s attorney explains that they are still considering their options and are not yet sure if they will appeal. One of the woman’s eight daughters issued relief at the verdict, noting that they now finally have accountability for the loss of their mother. She noted that getting answers and closure was a key part of the process of demanding responsibility for those whose negligence resulted in the tragedy.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Family Struggles to Find Support Services After Brain Injury

Many Illinois Brain Injury Victims Never Fully Recover