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Woman loses legs after gynecological surgery; awarded $62 million

Undergoing any type of surgical procedure can be very stressful for people across Atlanta. Of course we hope and expect that they surgery will be successful, but sometimes complications arise and errors are made during an operation that dramatically changes a person's life. If these changes are the result of a negligent doctor or hospital, it is possible for patients who are ill or injured because of the mistake to take legal action.

That is what one woman did after a tragic surgical complication left her unable to walk. According to reports, three doctors and the hospital where the surgery was performed were all held responsible for the terrible mistake that completely changed the woman's life. 

The woman initially went to the hospital because of an ectopic pregnancy, which may have already been a traumatic experience for the woman. Doctors removed a fertilized egg that was growing outside of her uterus. But during the procedure, one of the doctors reportedly punctured the woman's bowel, causing an infection to spread. After the surgery, the woman said that she was experiencing abdominal pain, but was sent home anyway.

In the next 24 hours, the infection from the punctured bowel spread aggressively and she had to go back to the hospital where doctors were able to manage the infection. However, the damage had already been done. Over the next couple months, the woman battled gangrene and blood poisoning. Ultimately, the doctors had to amputate the woman's legs below the knee.

The woman filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital and the doctors involved in the surgery, citing negligence in identifying the puncture wound, inadequate testing and discharging the woman without properly diagnosing her condition. A jury agreed that although the doctors were able to save her life after the infection, there were still many opportunities to prevent the infection from getting as bad as it did. They awarded the woman $62 million for damages and the pain and suffering she has had to endure.

There is no amount of money that can truly compensate victims of medical negligence in Georgia, especially when an error results in permanent injury or illness. However, the money awarded in a malpractice suit can help victims cover their past and future medical costs and serve as a way of acknowledging the damage that has been done.

Source: Newsday, "Jury awards $62M to Winthrop-University Hospital patient who lost legs," Ellen Yan, Jan. 10, 2014

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