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One Missed Step During a Pittsburgh Gallbladder Surgery Results in $2 Million Malpractice Award

Any surgery carries risks, but patients have a right to expect that the medical professionals operating on them will act according to a certain recognized standard of care that minimizes those risks. Unfortunately for Denise Westwood of Pittsburgh, who underwent surgery to remove her gallbladder, a fairly common procedure led to ongoing complications, and she brought a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor who performed her operation.

When a doctor performs below the normal standard of care or deviates from doing what a similar doctor in the same situation would do, a breach of duty has occurred. This could be a seemingly simple mistake, such as not performing all of the standard and necessary steps during a gallbladder surgery, but which can nonetheless cause harm. In Westwood’s case, the court found that her doctor missed one very important step that was necessary to successfully complete the gallbladder surgery. Because of that failure, her bile duct was injured and bile leaked internally, causing permanent damage to her liver and biliary tract.

In addition to suffering severe pain and post-surgical complications, Westwood also lost her job as a nurse’s aide. Her legal team was able to successfully show the full extent of the damages resulting from the doctor’s substandard performance. After one hour of deliberation, the jury decided her damages were worth $2 million even after the doctor tried to assert in his defense that he performed the surgery “carefully and properly.”

During a medical malpractice trial, a patient who suffers harm must also prove that the doctor’s mistake is the sole cause of that harm. Westwood was able to prove that the doctor’s failure to perform one step during her gallbladder surgery led to her severe pain and complications including internal injuries, which included multiple hernias, and required her to receive additional medical treatment. None of this would have come about but for the doctor’s negligence in missing one vital step during her gallbladder surgery.

Rudberg Law Offices, LLC can help determine if your injuries were caused by a doctor’s mistake and if the legally required proof of malpractice can be shown. Call us at 412-488-6000 or contact us online.