$1,024,614 – Surgeon removes Wrong Rib
A 32-year-old electrician had a cancerous tumor on his eighth rib. The surgeon removed the wrong ribs and bisected the tumor. A second surgery was required.
On August 31st, plaintiff underwent surgery for removal of his eighth rib on the right, along with portions of the seventh and ninth rib, to remove a cancerous tumor. Defendant Julian Brittain Litchford, M.D, performed the surgery. During the surgery, he removed the wrong rib. The seventh rib was removed in its entirety, along with portions of the eighth and sixth rib. The tumor was not completely removed but was bisected during the surgery. On Sept. 7th, the plaintiff underwent a second surgery for removal of the correct rib.
The plaintiffs contended that the Dr. Litchford fell below the standard of care when he negligently performed the first surgery, by totally removing a rib that was not consented to, necessitating a second surgery a week later to remove the correct one.
The defendants, who admitted liability as to the issue of negligence, contested both causation and damages.
Plaintiff had continued pain in his right arm with cramping from the shoulder down to the flank. His lung capacity had not improved or returned to normal. He sufffered from insomnia, anxiety, depression, lack of confidence and mood swings, which have all been attributed to post-traumatic stress syndrome related to the surgeries. He has chronic neuropathic pain in his right chest, shoulder and back that require pain medication. After the second surgery, he was unable to return to part-time work until March and was not released to work full-time until July/August for “light duty only.” Plaintiff claimed past medical specials of $4,000 and future medical specials of$577,000. He also claimed $6,614 in past loss of earnings. His wife filed a claim for loss of consortium.
The jury returned an award of $1,024,614. The verdict was reduced to $431,614 per the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) and the plaintiffs agreed to settle the matter for $460,000 in exchange for a satisfaction of judgment. MICRA limits general damages (non-economic damages) in medical malpractice cases to $250,000. If this were a personal injury case where plaintiff had been struck by an automobile and injured his ribs, arm, shoulder and flank, he would have been entitled to the full amount of the jury verdict.