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Woman awarded maximum damages in medical malpractice case

By Alpert Schreyer on December 8, 2016

Medical malpracticeA West Virginia woman and her husband who sued the U.S. government were recently awarded the maximum damages, by Federal Judge Irene Berger.

The pain and suffering of the plaintiff, Sarah Lambert Smith, were deemed to be worth $672,681.67 in the suit. Smith alleged that she was subjected to an unnecessary hysterectomy by a doctor who worked in a healthcare clinic funded by the federal government. Here is her story.

A scary C-section situation

The year was 2013 and Smith, 24, had just given birth to her first child via C-section. Five days after the baby was born, Smith had to return to the hospital because she was bleeding heavily from her vagina. She was directed to the emergency room and given several tests to determine the cause of the bleeding; though her vital signs were normal, she had a high white blood cell count and products of conception were detected in her blood.
Smith was told by Dr. Ray Wolfe that she needed a dilation and curettage—a procedure during which tissue is removed from the uterus in order to diagnose and treat uterine conditions—and that a hysterectomy might be necessary, if the bleeding continued.

Giving consent to curettage and hysterectomy

Smith signed waivers consenting to both the dilation and curettage and the hysterectomy, though she told the doctor she wanted to have more children, and assumed the latter procedure would not be necessary.
Instead of taking a number of other options, the doctor proceeded to give Smith a hysterectomy when the bleeding failed to stop after the first procedure.

In the case, the judge determined that Dr. Wolfe could have avoided giving the young woman a hysterectomy, and that failing to try to preserve the patient’s future fertility constituted reckless disregard for her welfare. The investigation determined that if Dr. Wolfe had not acted in the way he did, Smith would have had at least a 25 percent chance of keeping her uterus. Because of Dr. Wolfe’s actions, the plaintiff had to cope with loss of fertility, marital strain, hormonal changes and early menopause.

What is medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice results when a medical professional fails to properly care for a patient, or is negligent. Medical professionals must adhere to standards of care, and when they fall below these standards, they can be sued for malpractice.

If you or someone you love has been the victim of medical malpractice, call the experienced Maryland medical malpractice attorneys at Alpert Schreyer, LLC today. We will listen to you, review your case, and fight to get you the compensation you deserve.

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