Colonoscopies and other similar procedures used to diagnose gastrointestinal problems are considered routine for most adults. However, like any medical treatment, there are risks involved, which sometimes lead to serious injuries.
One woman was granted a multi-million dollar judgment in a medical malpractice lawsuit against her doctor. The jury handed down their decision, totaling $12 million, based on a suit that claimed the woman's doctor failed to diagnose problems that resulted in serious and debilitating brain damage, as reported by timesfreepress.com.
The basis of the woman's medical malpractice case came about after she sought a colonoscopy and upper endoscopy, to address issues with her bowels, which she had experienced for years. Both procedures are used to diagnose diseases in the colon and small intestine. According to the report, on the evening after the procedures took place, the woman was experiencing serious stomach pain and was vomiting. When she called her doctor's office, she was prescribed a medication for her nausea. No one instructed her to go to the emergency room.
The following day, the woman called again, expressing that the pain had not ceased. Her doctor ordered x-rays. When she arrived at the hospital to have them done, she was "so weak that she required use of a wheelchair," according to the lawsuit. The article reports that the woman went into cardiopulmonary arrest, which led to brain damage so severe that it resulted in total permanent disability. The woman is described as being so disabled that she is completely unable to care for herself.
The lawsuit focused primarily on the claim that, had the doctor properly and immediately examined the woman when she first complained of symptoms, he would have determined the cause of them. Additionally, the suit alleged that the doctor should have recognized that a perforated intestine is accompanied by the types of pain and vomiting experienced by the woman.
According to the American Association for Justice, a perforated bowel causes contents within the bowel to leak from the gastrointestinal tract into the abdomen. A leak of this kind is extremely serious, and can lead to infection, organ failure and even death. The law provides that a doctor breaches the standard of care when he or she fails to provide a timely diagnosis and treatment. In Garrett v. University Associates in Obstetrics & Gynecology, a patient sued a hospital and its emergency room physicians for complications from a perforated bowel, because she was discharged without a diagnosis. The New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, explained that, "In order to establish the liability of a physician for medical malpractice, a plaintiff must prove that the physician deviated or departed from accepted community standards of practice, and that such departure was a proximate cause of the plaintiff's injuries."
In the woman's case, the jury agreed that the doctor's failure to examine the woman, recognize the condition, and provide treatment, amounted to negligence. If you, or someone you know has suffered from complications due to a perforated bowel, or the failure to properly diagnose and treat a perforated bowel, you may be entitled to recover for your injuries. Contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney today.