Medical Malpractice Case Settles for $3 Million

Note: The recoveries in these cases are not necessarily indicative of recoveries in similar cases in the future, since each case must be decided on its own facts and circumstances.

Walter H. Emroch and Thomas J. McNally obtained a $3 million settlement for a 50-year-old woman who was the victim of medical malpractice.

The plaintiff, a resident of Emporia, Virginia, traveled to Washington, DC, to undergo a gynecological operation to remove a large cyst that had developed in her abdomen. The defendant doctor had previously treated the plaintiff for obstetrical and gynecological conditions and had successfully handled a previous high-risk pregnancy for the plaintiff.

Unfortunately, during the surgery, the defendant doctor, believing that he might have cut and/or ligated the plaintiff’s right ureter, performed what is referred to as an indigo carmine dye test. After performing the indigo carmine dye test, which is not adequate to rule out a ligated ureter, the defendant doctor erroneously concluded that the ureter was not ligated or damaged, and closed the plaintiff’s operative site.

Over the course of the next several days, the plaintiff developed post-operative signs and symptoms of ureteral damage, including complaints of back pain, elevated creatinine, blood in her urine, nausea and fever. Despite being aware of her post-operative signs and symptoms of ureteral damage, the defendant failed to investigate the cause of those symptoms in a timely manner, and failed to request a consult with a urologist to rule out ureteral damage. Eight days after the surgery, the doctor obtained a consultation by a urologist, who concluded that the plaintiff had a right ureteral obstruction. Twelve days after the initial surgery, the urologist, along with a transplant specialist, attempted to repair the ureter; however, by that time, the ureter was beyond repair and had to be removed, along with her right kidney. The kidney could not be relocated due to extensive swelling, scarring and adhesions from the ligation. Within several months, due to the loss of the right kidney, the plaintiff’s kidney function, which had been relatively stable, began a precipitous decline resulting in a six- to seven-year reduction in life expectancy, and she was compelled to begin dialysis treatment.

The defense experts said that the defendant did not violate the standard of care and suggested that the right ureteral blockage was not caused by a stitch or ligature, but was due to pre-existing disease.

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