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Patient suffers brain damage after surgeon leaves hospital

As any Washington, D.C., patients who have experienced one can attest, any medical errors at all are always upsetting, no matter how seemingly minor. To be reminded that highly-trained, highly-paid doctors may thoughtlessly make mistakes that leave an individual suffering can be extremely unsettling. Far worse, however, are incidents when one doctor's errors devastate the lives of an entire family forever, like in a recent case in another state involving a patient left with permanent brain damage.

The comatose victim's wife and stepson have filed a lawsuit on the man's behalf after open-heart surgery left him in a vegetative state. The lawsuit alleges that during the man's surgical procedure to repair his damaged aorta and replace a heart valve, excessive bleeding was an issue from the very beginning. In fact, according to medical records, interviews with the surgical team and cell phone records, the patient continued to bleed throughout the procedure, losing nearly a full third of his blood supply.

Despite this, the lawsuit states, the defendant in the case -- the surgeon who performed the procedure -- is accused of having left the operating room after his part in the surgery, before the patient was in stable condition – in fact, before the patient had even been sewn up. Additionally, not only did the defendant leave the OR, but he left the hospital grounds entirely, traveling approximately 30 minutes away to a restaurant. This act was apparently a violation of hospital policy, as he did not have a backup cardiac surgeon on the premises.

When the patient began turning blue due to oxygen deprivation from his continued uncontrolled bleeding, the surgeon was recalled to the hospital, but by then, it was too late. Despite the surgical team's attempts, brain damage had already set in, leaving the patient in the vegetative state in which he remains to this day. While a successfully litigated lawsuit cannot, of course, return a loved one to his or her prior, undamaged state, any monetary damages awarded in similar medical malpractice cases in Washington, D.C. could be used toward the inevitable treatment costs associated with caring for a loved one with a brain injury, and can at least attempt to hold negligent health care providers responsible for their egregious actions.

Source: fresnobee.com, "Malpractice suit says surgeon left operating room room prematurely", Lewis Griswold, Jan. 11, 2018

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