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The potential for surgical errors increases risk to patients

When Oregon residents are told that they need surgery, they most likely understand that every procedure comes with certain risks. Patients may weigh the risks and determine that the medical necessity of the procedure is worth it. However, surgical errors should not be considered one of the risks.

When an Oregon man was told that he needed surgery for his condition, he was most likely informed of the risks associated with it. He underwent the procedure in March 2011. Tragically, there was no way he could have known prior to the procedure that a life-altering mistake would be made.

During the surgery, the 56-year-old man's heartbeat became irregular. To correct the problem, he was given a heart medication called amiodarone by the anesthesiologist. Unfortunately, the dosage he was given was more than what was required. As a result of the overdose, he was left with brain damage.

In 2013, a lawsuit was filed against Northwest Anesthesia Physicians, the anesthesiologist and PeaceHealth. Recently, the jury determined that these three defendants were responsible for his current condition and awarded the man a total of approximately $12.2 million in damages. Approximately $5.8 million was awarded for pain and suffering. The remainder of the judgment was awarded to cover the man's economic damages.

Unfortunately, this man's plight is not unique. Each year, thousands of patients across the country are injured or killed by surgical errors. Medical malpractice claims could provide the injured and/or their families with restitution for the damages caused by the receipt of substandard care. Establishing negligence is a vital part of any case filed and doing so can be complex. Once proved, however, the court may consider awarding damages.

Source: oregonlive.com, "Jury awards Springfield man $12 million in negligence case against PeaceHealth, doctors", Oct. 22, 2015

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