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Unnecessary Surgery Leads To Large Verdict


A Chicago jury recently returned a large verdict against a doctor who it found had performed unnecessary surgery on a patient.

The patient went to the hospital for a C-section. After her child was born, she continued to bleed from a condition called "atony," which occurs when the uterus fails to contract after birth. The treatment for atony is to massage the uterus to encourage it to contract and, if that does not work, to tie down nearby blood vessels to stop the bleeding.

In this case, the doctor took the first step, but soon stopped. She then skipped the second step and removed the patient's uterus. At trial, the plaintiff presented evidence that continued massage was the correct procedure as long as the patient remained stable and that tying off the blood vessels worked in the vast majority of other patients.

The jury apparently accepted the plaintiff's view that the doctor had panicked and had not provided the correct treatment. One key to the verdict was evidence showing that the patient's vital signs were stable and that there was thus no need for the doctor to have operated immediately.

The patient, who as a result is unable to have any more children, recovered $2 million for the unnecessary surgery and $3 million for her pain and suffering.

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