Back in January of 2006, a patient entered an Alabama hospital to have surgery for a duodenal ulcer. Soon after the operation, the man needed multiple blood transfusions. The 37-year-old man was discharged from the hospital, but within days, he died.
The patient's family sued the hospital and the doctors who treated the man. They argued in their lawsuit that the patient did not receive adequate care, particularly after his surgery. At trial, the family presented evidence that the man was discharged from the hospital with a very low blood count, and that he was not adequately examined by the attending physician before he was discharged. All of this, said the family, amounted to medical malpractice.
An autopsy report indicated that the man bled to death. "Exsanguination in the artery" was the official cause of death listed.
The defendants argued that the man's condition was complicated by the fact that he was anemic, a smoker, and that he used alcohol and over-the-counter medications. They also said that the man's ulcer was unusual.
Despite these defenses, the jury took only three hours to find in favor of the plaintiffs. They awarded the plaintiffs three million dollars in damages. The defendants, not surprisingly, said they disagreed with the verdict.
Miami medical malpractice attorneys see this story as a good example of how postoperative care can be just as important as the care that takes place in the operating room. The patient in this case suffered the deadly consequences of postoperative negligence, which proved just as damaging as if the physicians had made errors during his surgery.
Source: al.com "Birmingham man's family wins $3 million in wrongful death suit" 2/13/2011