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Ohio doctor found negligent after surgery that took man's life

A serious problem has lately received increased attention in the medical field: poor communication. Members of hospital staff are sometimes reluctant to report issues even when a patient's life may be at risk, and medical doctors often fail to properly communicate with nurses and other team members before ordering a medical procedure. It appears that the supposed hierarchy of medical knowledge in the health care system continues to result in negative outcomes for patients.

That was the claim in a recent jury trial in Ohio. In 2010, after suffering injuries in an auto accident, a 30-year-old man was cleared for facial surgery. Prior to the procedure, he had complained of severe headaches, which nurses noted on his medical record.

However, according to a lawsuit filed after the man's death, doctors failed to check the record. The patient was consequently cleared for surgery, from which he did not wake up. He died a week later.

The car accident had left the man with a subdural hematoma, which had expanded before the surgery. The procedure placed even more pressure on the man's skull, resulting in fatal injuries.

An attorney for the man's family, who sued the medical professionals involved in the surgery, pointed out that if a CT scan had been ordered before the procedure, then the subdural hematoma would have been shown, and precautions could have been taken to relieve the pressure.

The lawsuit named the patient's nurses, the surgeon, the trauma-services physician and his medical group as defendants, but only the trauma-services physician, who reportedly oversaw the procedure, and his group were found negligent by a jury in Franklin County. The trial lasted two weeks, and the grieving family of the deceased was awarded $1.8 million.

Medical malpractice and wrongful death claims cannot bring back a lost loved one, but they can help ensure that others don't suffer at the hands of the same negligent doctors. Victims and their families should be aware of their right to hold doctors and hospitals accountable for negligent actions that result in patient injury.

Source: The Columbus Dispatch, "Jurors: Columbus doctor, medical group owe $1.8 million in surgery death," John Futty, Aug. 14, 2014

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