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My Doctor Botched My Surgery and Lied About It

I’m Katelyn Holub, an attorney focusing on personal injury law in northwest Indiana.

Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss topics related to personal injury law.

Today’s question comes from a listener who says “my Doctor botched my surgery and lied about what she did, can I sue?”

After discussing the matter further, it turned out that what was supposed to be a simple “walk in the park” 2-hour outpatient surgical procedure turned into a nightmarish 10-hour ordeal. What started out as a routine hernia operation became a litany of medical errors that almost put the patient at risk of losing his intestines.

The doctor who operated had performed hundreds of these hernia operations in the past and was known as the “go to” expert for this type of medical procedure. Unfortunately, what transpired during this event would not only haunt the patient for the rest of his lifetime, but would negate the expert status the doctor had worked so hard to achieve.

Somehow during the operation, a surgical instrument was left inside the patient’s body cavity then covered up with mesh fiber, then the belly button was sewn back together. The anesthesiologist discovered the patient was reacting differently to the anesthesia and was starting to wake up too early. Then the machines that monitor patient heart rhythms started to flash, beep and alert the medical team that something was wrong with the patient.

An inventory was ordered for all instruments used for the procedure. All were accounted for except one. More anesthesia was administered to keep the patient from gaining consciousness. The patient was wheeled into the X-Ray room to assess if indeed an instrument was left inside.

As the patient was being X-rayed his spouse was in the facilities comfort room awaiting the results. It was going on 4-1/2 hours now and she was worried. Yet, no one had come out to speak to her as to what was happening with her husband.

Around the five-hour mark the patient was rushed into the Emergency Room and his belly button reopened. Now the mesh that had been installed to prevent the hernia from getting worse needed to be cut open so the doctor could find his lost medical instrument. Unfortunately, in removing the instrument from the body cavity part of the intestine was cut. Yet, somehow no one on the medical team noticed. Then the patient received another mesh insert and was sewn up.

Six hours had now gone by and the patient’s wife was getting antsy. She wondered where her husband was. She demanded answers. The doctor finally came out and flat out lied and said her husband had reacted badly to the anesthesia and should be ready soon.

However, this was not to be the case.

The damaged intestine was now leaking into the patient’s body cavity and the patient was beginning to run a fever. A nurse took the man’s vitals and alerted the doctor yet again. Another x-ray was ordered. This time alerting the doctor to the need to once again open up the patient.

So now the patient would be opened up yet again. The mesh lining installed for the hernia cut again. But now, this time, the intestine would need to be operated on to fix the damage caused when the lost medical instrument was removed.

The patient after almost 10 hours was now awake. The patient’s wife was livid and wanted answers. Sadly, the doctor and her team decided not to be forthcoming and didn’t want to share the reasons why the surgery took 8 hours longer than it was scheduled.

In this particular medical scenario, it does seem that the doctor was careless and didn’t want to be forthcoming with answers. Yet, is it classified as negligence?

Let’s examine what negligence means in this case.

Negligence by a medical professional can be the result of an error in diagnosis, treatment or illness management. Negligence is based on a failure to follow accepted standards of practice. For example, a hospital may provide improper care in not properly assessing a fall risk resulting in a patient fall. Or, there may be an error in dispensing medications, or a failure to maintain sanitation or providing below standard nursing care.

So yes, negligence did occur. But can the patient sue?

The law involving medical malpractice is designed to protect patients’ rights to compensation if they are injured as the result of negligence. But malpractice suits are rarely simple, and they are costly to fight. Sometimes the time and money needed to pursue compensation for an injury that is minor or heals quickly should not be spent.

Physicians and hospitals rarely admit mistakes. Even in cases that seem to be clear cut, you can expect a defendant to fight any claim of wrongdoing.

The field of medical malpractice does not only apply to doctors. It can also apply to nurses, dentists, osteopaths, physical therapy facilities and others providing health care services.

We have successfully handled many medical malpractice claims covering a range of errors–from birth injuries to brain injuries to failure to diagnose cancer, nursing home abuse injuries, medication dosage injuries, and infectious disease claims due to contamination.

I hope you found this information helpful. If you have questions about your legal rights if you get hurt due to the carelessness of another person, or as a result of substandard medical care, or due to a product defect, construction injury, or any other type of personal injury, please give us a call at (219) 736-9700. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at DavidHolubLaw.com – while there make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth”.