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Even seemingly proper surgical technique can lead to fatal errors

Our expectations for doctors and surgeons run higher than with most people in other occupations. We believe that because they went to school for so long, they should be experts in the field of medicine. As experts, they should be able to identify when they are in the right and when they are in the wrong.

But as one out-of-state-case shows, even when a doctor believes they did everything correctly, errors can still occur and with deadly consequences. Even though this case was resolved far outside Maryland's jurisdiction, we point to it in today's post as just another example of why it's important to hold doctors accountable for their mistakes and negligence.

The case we are referring to is one out of Georgia where a 64-year-old woman died after receiving surgery to remove a cyst. According to reports, it was later discovered that the doctor who had performed the surgery had mistakenly nicked her bowel then "mishandled her complaints after the procedure." It was this negligence that the woman's family based their medical malpractice lawsuit.

Even though two testimonies for the defense insisted that the physician had "met the standard of care throughout the surgery and afterwards," this was not enough to convince the jury that he had not made a mistake that eventually ended in the woman's death. In the end, the family was awarded $3 million, a sum that may bring a sense of justice but may never fully accommodate the family's grief.

This case and others like it show our Maryland readers that even if a doctor thinks they have performed a surgery correctly, they should always take into account a patient's complaint afterwards. These complaints, though they may seem benign, may actually indicate a surgical error that needs to be corrected. If doctors ignore these complaints, death is possible and so too is the risk of a wrongful death case.

Source: The Atlanta Journal Constitution, "DeKalb jury awards $3 million in medical malpractice case," Bill Rankin, Jan. 27, 2016

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