A 60-year-old woman has filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against several doctors and a hospital where she was treated because she claimed that not only did they remove the wrong body part during a surgery but the doctors also tried to cover it up when the mistake was discovered.
A Precancerous Lesion
In 2015, the patient was told that her 8th rib harbored a precancerous lesion and that the rib should be surgically removed as soon as possible. She agreed to the medical procedure and on May 18th, 2015, went into the hospital.
Radiologists specifically marked the location of the lesion by numbing the skin and placing metal coils into the rib. They also injected dye into the skin to mark the spot. It was at this point that the patient was placed under anesthesia and taken into surgery where a rib resection was performed by surgeons.
After, while she was waking up from anesthesia, she noted a pain near the surgery site which persisted for several hours. The pain was serious enough that she was taken for x-rays which revealed that the metal coils which had been placed in the 8th rib were still in place – as was the rib. Instead, the 7th rib had been removed. The doctor who initially reviewed the x-rays informed her that the wrong rib had been removed, however, when the surgeon came in to discuss the results with her, he tried to cover up the mistake by saying that not enough of the correct rib had been taken out and she would have to once again go under anesthesia for a second surgery.
The second procedure happened the same day and the correct rib was removed as well as the metal markers.
In her claim, she has alleged that the defendants were negligent because they:
- failed to adequately and properly monitor and supervise the resident physician house staff
- failed to confirm intraoperatively with x-ray that the correct rib was being resected
- failed to remove the implanted marking coils prior to closing the surgical would and leaving the operating room
- failed to recognize that the wrong rib had been operated on until after the plaintiff had recovered and returned to her hospital room and,
- misrepresented to the plaintiff the reason for her needing a repeat surgery in such a short time.
She is seeking compensation for her medical expenses, lost wages, and also punitive damages.
What Are Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages, which are also known as exemplary damages, are an additional monetary award that can be given to a plaintiff if the court feels that it will make an example of the defendant and deter both the defendant and others from behaving in a certain way.
New York Medical Malpractice
This woman is certainly not the first to have suffered at the hands of her doctors. In fact, New York is one of the top five states when it comes to medical malpractice payouts. Thousands of lawsuits are filed every year, the majority of plaintiffs claim that a doctor’s negligence resulted in:
- permanent disfiguring injury
- brain damage
- the removal of a body part which did not need to be removed
- a delay in the correct diagnosis of a medical treatment
Some have speculated that even more lawsuits would be filed if the statute of limitations in the state weren’t so short.
What Is The Statute Of Limitations?
Currently, in New York, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice is 2 ½ years. However, new legislation is seeking to make changes to the statute of limitations.
If passed, the time period for the statute of limitations will technically remain the same, however, the beginning of the time period will start when the victim realizes they were harmed by medical malpractice, as long as the lawsuit is filed within 10 years of the original incident.
While this might seem extreme, the fact is that medical malpractice isn’t always obvious. In many cases, a misdiagnosis can lead to a patient being treated for a different medical condition for years before a correct diagnosis is made. Or, in a shocking number of surgical cases, a foreign body is left inside of the body cavity. It can take years for that object to cause a problem but when it finally does, the problems it creates can be deadly. By allowing plaintiffs more time to file, victims will be more likely to obtain the compensation they both desperately need and deserve.