South Carolina patients may have heard that a surgeon is being sued for allegedly leaving surgery to attend a luncheon meeting. The surgery that left a 72-year-old man in a vegetative state may have involved negligence, according to the lawsuit. According to an unnamed source who contacted the family one year after the procedure took place, the doctor, a cardiac surgeon, left the man on the operating table without closing the man's chest cavity. The surgeon left this to the physician's assistant, who was not qualified to finish the procedure. The state health department was reviewing the incident, the caller said, but neither the doctor nor the patient's name was made public.
The patient, described as an active gardener, was hospitalized in 2012 with a calcified heart valve and an aortic aneurysm. Surgery was scheduled several days later. After two hours, the surgeon left the operating room and told the family the surgery was successful. Reportedly, the doctor then left the hospital to attend a luncheon 20-30 minutes away. Closing the patient's chest was left undone, according to the caller who was present in the operating room. Complications ensued and the cardiologist returned to the hospital. While the patient did not die, brain damage had occurred and the patient remains in a vegetative state.
The circumstances of medical malpractice vary from case to case. The case depends on the family that files the suit proving that the surgeon did not provide the standard of care and this breach of duty caused injury or damage. This medical malpractice case will depend on an expert testifying that leaving a physician's assistant to close a chest cavity is not the standard of care and that this resulted in injury to the patient.
A malpractice suit may be brought against both the physician and the hospital when surgical error occurs. An attorney who is experienced in malpractice law may assist and guide the patient and their family through this difficult time.
Source: ABC News, "Man Left Brain Damaged After Doctor Allegedly Abandons Man's Open-Heart Surgery", Sydney Lupkin, January 15, 2014