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Jury finds doctor, hospital not liable for woman's death

As many of our Albuquerque readers know, sometimes it only takes a miniscule error in a patient's medical treatment to cause a big unintended effect on that patient. This is what occurred in 2011 with an otherwise healthy woman in California, who entered a hospital for routine surgery and ended up dying a few hours later.

According to testimony in the case, the 40-year-old woman went to the hospital to have three different procedures done. She was having her IUD birth control device removed, so there were two procedures performed regarding that: one to locate it and another to remove it. In the third procedure, the woman underwent a tubal ligation.

However, due to an operating room error, a surgeon inadvertently penetrated one of the woman's arteries with a needle. The hole that was created was no larger than the size of a pencil point, but it was enough to cause massive internal bleeding -- undetected at the time of the procedure and its immediate aftermath.

The hospital's staff discharged the woman and she went home a few hours later. She had trouble sleeping due to pain, so her husband gave her Vicodin that had been prescribed to her to help her sleep. Later in the overnight hours, when the woman's husband attempted to wake her to give her another pill for her pain, she was unresponsive. She had lost more than 2 quarts of blood from the damaged artery, causing her to go into cardiac arrest.

The recent lawsuit found that the hospital and the woman's anesthesiologist were not liable for the incident; however, earlier the husband had come to a settlement with the surgeon out of court, so he was able to receive at least some compensation for the death of his wife.

Source: The Fresno Bee, "Jury: Clovis hospital, doctor not to blame for woman bleeding to death internally," Pablo Lopez, Oct. 1, 2013

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