Failure to diagnose, treat surgical complications

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Case in Point

April 17, 2012

Failure to diagnose, treat surgical complications 

The plaintiffs alleged that a hospital and surgeon failed to timely diagnose and treat a gastric bypass patient’s postsurgical anastomotic leak. The jury awarded $178 million, including $10 million in punitive damages. Chandler v. Laparoscopic Weight Loss Surgery Ctrs.

Clay Chandler, 38, was admitted to Memorial Hospital to undergo laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery performed by surgeon John DePeri. For more than a week after the procedure, Chandler experienced respiratory distress, low blood pressure, increased pulse, and a distended abdomen. He then suffered cardiac arrest and septic shock, which resulted in a hypoxic brain injury and coma. While in the ICU, he developed redness and swelling in his eyes, prompting his physicians to order eye drops every eight hours for three days.

About two months later, Chandler was discharged with profound brain damage. He also suffered damage to both corneas. He had been a lieutenant in a county sheriff’s office earning about $90,000 annually but is now unable to speak intelligently, walk, or feed himself. He underwent a cornea transplant and suffers from contractures.

Chandler, his wife, and his two children sued the hospital and DePeri, alleging failure to timely diagnose and treat a postsurgical anastomotic leak and apply the eye drops as prescribed. Additionally, suit alleged that the hospital misrepresented DePeri’s qualifications to perform such a complex surgery and failed to follow basic patient safety standards.

The jury awarded $178 million, including $10 million in punitive damages.

Citation: Chandler v. Laparoscopic Weight Loss Surgery Ctrs., LLC, No. 16-2009-CA-013207 (Fla., Duval Co. Cir. Jan. 23, 2012).

Plaintiff counsel: AAJ member Thomas S. Edwards and Eric Ragatz, both of Jacksonville, Fla.

 


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