Law Offices of Judy Snyder

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Claim: Surgical errors cause breathing issues for patient

Oregon surgeons may consider some surgical procedures to be routine, but in reality, no two procedures are alike. Some of the risks assumed by patients are related to the operation itself, but others involve the potential for surgical errors. A seemingly routine operation can quickly deteriorate into catastrophic injuries for the patient if a surgeon makes a mistake.

For instance, a man -- who is himself a physician -- needed to have surgery on his right shoulder to repair an injury. The operation was scheduled for Sept. 14, 2011. During the procedure, it was determined that he needed a superclavicular block, which is supposed to help control post-operative pain.

Something went wrong, however, and the Illinois physician's hemi-diaphragm (half of the main muscle used to breathe) was paralyzed. Consequently, he has trouble breathing on his own. Unfortunately, the paralysis is permanent, and the man now requires supplemental oxygen in order to breathe. He is suing the University of Chicago Medical Center -- where the procedure was performed -- for negligence. He is asking the court for a monetary judgment to cover his current and future medical needs, along with other damages such as his lost earning potential and pain and suffering.

As would be the case here in Oregon, the man will first need to establish to the court that the medical care he received was not up to accepted medical standards. If he proves that surgical errors led to his current condition, the court may consider awarding him a judgment for monetary damages. Medical malpractice cases can be complex and typically require experienced counsel who understand the issues and can bring in the appropriate professionals needed to be fully prepared to settle or litigate the claim, depending on the circumstances.

Source:, "Doctor sues U. of Chicago hospital, alleging negligence in operation", Robert Hadley, Oct. 7, 2015

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