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Jury gives more than $10 million in fatal surgical error case

Many Maryland residents dread going to the hospital, particularly when a medical procedure is scheduled. For many, the entire process represents a loss of control and immersion into an unfamiliar world in which strangers make significant decisions regarding one's health and wellness. Many people fear that a mistake will be made, and that serious injury or even death could result. While these types of errors are rare, they do occur. One recent medical malpractice case underscores the risk of experiencing a fatal surgical error.

The case centered on the death of a 34-year-old wife and mother. The woman went into the hospital to be treated for bronchitis. However, tests suggested that heart problems may have been present. While undergoing a routine heart catheterization procedure, the tip of the catheter pierced one of the woman's coronary arteries.

The inner lining of that artery collapsed, and the woman's blood flow was severely limited. She was not taken into surgery for more than 30 minutes, by which point she was near death. Doctors were unable to repair the damage, and she lost her life shortly afterward.

The family recently received an award of $10.8 million from the jury that heard their medical negligence case. The trial lasted eight days, and the monetary award was based on compensatory damages. This case, while tragic for the family who lost a wife and mother, serves as an example of the avenues of legal recourse available when a family is subjected to a fatal surgical error, in Maryland or elsewhere.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, St. Louis County jury awards $10.8 million medical negligence verdict, Jim Doyle, Aug. 30, 2013

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