You might think that a tonsillectomy is a routine surgery that gets performed thousands of times each year without incident, and you would be correct. However, a Pennsylvania woman suffered brain damage after her breathing tube was removed too quickly after a routine tonsillectomy. A Montgomery County jury awarded her $12.7 million in compensatory damages for the brain injury she suffered when her breathing tube was removed before the anesthesia had fully worn off, causing her to be unable to lift her right leg, foot drag, decreased movement in her right arm and difficulty balancing. She does have some difficulty walking, and she cannot drive.
The once active, 33-year-old special education teacher is now an aid in the classroom where she had been the teacher because her school was unable to make the accommodations she required due to the injury. The plaintiff was awarded $12.7 million, with $5.85 million for lost earnings and for past and future noneconomic damages. The remainder of the verdict was for her life care plan through 2057, according to a local legal publication.
Making a claim for medical malpractice
At the heart of this case is the negligence of the surgeon and the anesthesiologist for failing to monitor her progress after the procedure, and for removing the breathing tube too early. To prevail in a case like this where the negligence came in the failure to monitor the patient, the plaintiff must bring in a medical expert who shares the same specialty as the doctor who performed the surgery. The expert would speak to what is the accepted standard of care for that area and for that procedure. That expert would have to draw a direct line of causation between the physician or the anesthesiologist’s negligence and the plaintiff’s injuries.
In this case, the plaintiff could prove her case and the jury awarded her financial compensation that would make up for the fact that she would be unable to do the same work she did before because of her injury. She also required help with her activities of daily living due to the diminished use of her right arm and hand.
Despite the routine nature of the surgery, there is still room for negligence and error on the part of medical professionals. If a medical mistake caused your injury, you may have the opportunity to take legal action against the medical professional who caused the injury in a medical malpractice lawsuit.