stethoscope sitting on paper

Examples of Successful Malpractice Lawsuits

While doctors are held liable for the lives and well-being of their patients, only certain circumstances warrant a valid malpractice claim. Even if you have a case against your dentist or doctor, it can be difficult to win a malpractice lawsuit. Many cases yield favorable results to the defendant (the doctor) and not the patient.

Here are some interesting cases that have won in the past. It may give you a good idea if your case has a chance of winning. As always, the best way to see if you have a case, is to give us a call. Let us know if you have any questions.

  1. Operating on the Wrong Side of the Brain

A hospital in Rhode Island operated on the wrong side of the brain on three different patients. One of the patients died as a result. Three different doctors oversaw the three procedures.

  1. Operation By a Fake Doctor

The patient, Alexander Baez, a professional bodybuilder went to get pec implants. After the surgery, he discovered that he instead got breast implants. The doctor who performed the surgery was not licensed nor had any medical experience. The same phony doctor used kitchen utensils on two women he operated on.

  1. Failed Anesthesia

A woman who had been suffering from chronic pain in her right eye was recommended by her doctor to have it removed. Her surgery took around 5 ½ hours, half of which she was awake. The part of the anesthesia that puts patients to sleep wore off while the part that paralyzed the patient was working. The patient woke up hear the surgeon give instructions. She also was conscious when her eye was removed.

In another case, an older man was conscious during an exploratory surgery of his abdomen. Unlike   the previous patient, this gentleman was able to feel all the pain and pressure of the procedure. The man was so traumatized by the ordeal that he committed suicide shortly afterwards.

  1. Surgical Fires

There have been at least three instances where patients have accidently caught fire while on the operating table. Two of those patients later died from their burns. The supposed causes of the fires have been contributed to the use of electronic cauterizing tools and scalpels, oxygen and alcohol that was rubbed on the patient for disinfectant.

  1. Left Behind Retractors

There have been multiple instances where patients underwent surgery to have something removed only to find that the diseased or failing organ had been replaced with the surgeon’s operating tools. In fact, there are around 1,500 of these cases each year. While some of these don’t result in any negative, long-term effects, some cause pain and discomfort, infection and internal bleeding which can cause other, serious health problems. The tool most often left in patients are retractors.

One such case involved a 13-inch retractor being left inside a patient who then experienced abdominal pain. The patient was awarded $97,000.

  1. Incompatible Organ Transplant

A 17-year old patient died two weeks after getting a heart and double lung transplant. The patient’s body didn’t accept the transplants as her blood type was type O and the organs were type A. The hospital covered up the mistake for 11 days before going public to ask for another donor. The patient went brain dead and passed away.

  1. Wrong One Removed

With the oversight and lack of communication, it is scary to think that doctors can overlook blood type. There are stories about the wrong procedures done on the wrong clients and the wrong body part removed. Two successful cases included a $200,000 settle awarded to a patient with testicular cancer who had the wrong testicle removed. Another patient died after doctors removed the wrong kidney. Yet another patient had the wrong leg amputated. This case had an award of $1.15 million.

  1. False Oral Cancer Diagnosis

A dental patient had x-rays that revealed a lump on her left jaw and was told it was cancer. She was informed that she had 3-6 months to live, but that her life could be prolonged by removing the left side of her lower face, from the chin to the ear. The patient elected to have surgery. After her surgery, however, it was discovered that there was a mix up and that the patient had undergone multiple unnecessary surgeries and was now disfigured for no reason.

  1. Psychotic Break-Down

A patient committed suicide after visiting a psychiatrist for 5 years to recover from abuse the patient had experienced as a child. The psychiatrist coerced the patient to have sexual relations with her.

  1. Unhealthy Baby After All

An expecting couple had ultrasounds taken of their soon-to-be son. The images and doctors assured them that the baby had no physical deformities or was mentally challenged. The couple would have aborted the baby otherwise. While the baby wasn’t mentally disabled, it was born with only one limb. The couple was awarded $4.5 million.

  1. Wrong Artery Bypass

Former Saturday Night Live star Dana Carvey went to have a double bypass done to save his life. After the procedure, he was notified that the surgeon bypassed one of the wrong arteries. He filed a $7.5 million dollar lawsuit against the hospital.

  1. Doctors Perform Heart Surgery on Wrong Patient
    A 67-year old patient went to the hospital to have a cerebral angiography procedure done. Instead of being discharged the next day, she was briskly rushed in to have open heart surgery. An hour into the surgery, the surgeon was informed that she was the wrong patient. The patient was then returned to her room in stable condition where she recovered, though she now had an increased risk of heart attack stroke, internal bleeding and getting infections.
  2. That Baby’s Not Mine
    A woman in New York was impregnated with what she thought was the sperm of her husband. At birth, however, it was clear that it was the sperm of a stranger. The baby girl looked nothing like her parents, having dark skin. The couple sued the fertility clinic and the embryologist.
  3. Doctors Ignores Patient in Emergency Room
    A patient waited in a New York emergency room for 24 hours without being seen. While she was waiting, she collapsed onto the floor and died. None of the nurses or physicians in the waiting area attempted to save her.
  4. Life Support Dies from Ketchup Packets
    A 36-year old patient suffered a traumatic brain injury as was put on life support at an assisted living facility. The patient’s wife went to take him home when he started vomiting. He died minutes later. The autopsy revealed that this throat and stomach were filled with foreign objects including unopened ketchup packets, plastic bags and paper towels. An $11 million dollar award was levied against the assisted living facility.

While medical errors and mistakes are rare, they do happen. When something does go wrong, it is important to know when you have a valid malpractice case. There are certain components that need to exist in order to bring a lawsuit against your doctor.

At Chianese & Reilly Law, we have expert malpractice lawyers who would gladly discuss your case. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.