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Woman loses voice and ability to breathe due to surgical error

When a patient goes to the hospital for surgery, she may be worried about receiving anesthetics and about the surgical procedure itself. This patient likely does not want to worry about whether the surgery will be done properly or whether it will result in a worse injury than she had going into the surgery.

Some Maryland residents have likely felt similar frustrations to those of a woman who experienced a surgical error during thyroid surgery several years ago. She came out of the surgery without her thyroid gland, but also without the ability to talk or breathe independently. During her surgery, which reportedly lasted 30 to 90 minutes less than the average thyroid surgery, the surgeon damaged her vocal cords.

As a result, this woman had to relearn how to talk and can still only speak in a soft voice four years after the surgery. In addition, she had to have a tracheotomy to allow her to breathe through a hole in her neck.

Since the surgery, this woman pursued the surgeon who damaged her vocal cords. Though he was unable to practice medicine for a year in the United Kingdom where he had been working, his suspension is now complete and he can return to practice, though with certain restrictions.

This woman is still very frustrated by the results of this surgeon's error. She was not his only patient to suffer as a result of a surgical error. Another patient having the same thyroid surgery done also has a tracheostomy as a result of the surgeon's error. This woman alleges that statistically only one in 1,000 thyroid surgeries would have an error, whereas this surgeon produced errors in two of seven thyroid surgeries he performed.

Others who experience lifelong pain or injury as a result of surgery may want to look into filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against the physician or hospital responsible. A person's health is essential to living a full life. Losing the ability to live one's life fully because of a surgical error is not fair.

Source: Daily Mail, "Mother's horror as surgeon who left her unable to speak or breath after botched thyroid op is allowed to work again," Anna Hodgekiss, Dec. 27, 2012

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