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New York jury awards $62 million to victim of surgical error

Finally, years after a botched operation and an 8-week trial, a New York jury has awarded $62 million to a woman who lost both legs and had damaged hearing after what should have been routine surgery in a renowned hospital.

Divorced and the mother of a 13-year-old girl, the Brooklyn woman went to Winthrop University Hospital on Long Island in 2009 for removal of an ectopic pregnancy. A routine gynecological procedure turned into a years-long nightmare when doctors punctured her intestine during the surgery. A resulting infection led to blood poisoning and gangrene.

She spent 73 days in intensive care, much of it in a coma. She had three cardiac arrests. Doctors finally amputated her legs because of infection. She lost much of her hearing and had to undergo a colostomy.

She filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital and the doctors in 2010.

In its defense, the hospital contended that the woman should be thankful that its staff saved her life. A hospital representative said that the ruling and the amount of damages would be appealed.

Many New Yorkers rely on a hospital's reputation when considering where they would want to receive treatment or surgery. Because surgeries may come with a high price tag, they expect that they will receive the best care possible.

Surgeries are never without risks, however. Even the most prominent hospitals and most successful and renowned surgeons can make surgical errors in otherwise routine operations.

The results of surgery gone awry, though, can be devastating for a patient. In addition to making for a longer hospital stay, a surgical error can have irreversible results. In this case, the woman's double amputation caused grief and emotional trauma and affected her ability to support her family. As in this case, negligent surgeons or hospitals must be held accountable.

Source: Tech Times, "Justice at last: Double amputee victim awarded $62 mn," Sumit Passary, Jan. 18, 2014

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