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Botched tummy tuck leads to large medical malpractice award


Most Montana residents place great trust in their doctors, and for good reason. When we are seriously injured or facing a life-threatening illness, the skill of our physicians is often the only thing standing between us and a premature demise. When doctors make mistakes in these cases, the results can be devastating. Sadly, sometimes great harm is done by doctor error even when the procedure in question is routine or cosmetic.

Recently a Michigan woman was awarded $1.3 million in damages by a jury in a medical malpractice case arising out of an elective "tummy tuck" surgery. The woman was in her late thirties when she went to the doctor's office for the procedure, known to physicians as an abdominoplasty. The woman was in good physical condition. She worked out regularly and ran daily. She said she got the tummy tuck because she wanted to pamper herself.

The woman began experiencing serious complications after the surgery. She experienced pain, clots and a dark-colored discharge from the wound. The doctor gave her pain medication, cleaned the wound and treated it with ointment. The woman requested a referral to a specialist in wound care, but the doctor did not give her one. Over a month after the surgery the woman was still experiencing problems. The doctor diagnosed an infection, but still failed to give her the referral to a specialist. The woman finally went to an emergency room two months after the surgery. They sent her to a wound care facility, which diagnosed a staph infection. She spent the next six days in the hospital.

Today the woman continues to suffer long-term consequences from the surgery. She alleged in her lawsuit that the surgeon's failure to diagnose the infection in time, and his failure to treat it adequately, caused her significant physical and financial damages. The jury apparently agreed, awarding her compensation for pain and suffering, disfigurement, and loss of income.

When a physician fails to meet the standard of care in his or her field, and that failure leads to a worsened medical condition, the doctor can be held liable in a medical malpractice lawsuit. These cases are complex and require sophisticated expert testimony to prove negligence on the part of the physician. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can evaluate a patient's claim and advise them if they have a good case.

Source: mlive.com, "Jury awards Jackson woman $1.3 million in medical malpractice case," Danielle Salisbury, Feb. 21, 2014

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