A 72-year-old man was recently awarded $776,000 in a tragic surgical error case. In the lawsuit, the man alleged that his wife contracted fatal, end-stage liver disease in 2011 due to a surgeon error. The lawsuit, like similar lawsuits in Maryland, blamed the woman's surgeon for her death. The suit alleged that she would not have contracted the liver disease if the medical malpractice had not occurred.
Allegedly, the surgeon placed the staples in the wrong place, which blocked the woman's bile ducts on her liver. By the time the staples were removed, it was too late. The woman's liver had already been destroyed, and she was put on a waiting list to receive a donor liver.
In contrast, the surgeon who performed the procedure disagreed. He said that he put the staples in the appropriate place. The defense also argued that autopsy reports were unable to determine if the woman had actually died from liver disease or if she had died from Lou Gehrig's disease. Lou Gehrig's disease was a prior condition that the woman suffered from, which caused her to be placed in a nursing home. The surgical error with regard to the staples occurred a couple of months later, when she had her gallbladder removed.
Following the jury award, the woman's husband expressed his relief and mentioned that his wife had asked him not to give up the fight. The amount of money awarded is small in comparison to the devastating tragedy of losing his wife. Nevertheless, the process of successfully litigating a medical malpractice case based upon a surgeon error in Maryland can bring some sense of closure for the victim or (in the event of a fatal mistake) the surviving family members, even if it can never heal the pain of a loss that will never fully go away.