When it comes to medical malpractice, protecting patient rights is of the utmost importance. This is because medical malpractice can have a devastating impact on an individual’s life - from physical and emotional suffering to financial losses and more. When doctors fail to uphold their duty of care and patients are harmed by medical malpractice, lives are changed forever and may even be cut short.
Patients who suffer as a result of medical negligence and malpractice (and their families) may have the option to seek justice through legal action. This can ensure that the wrongdoers are held accountable and that victims are compensated appropriately.
At James Wood Law, we are driven to help patients recover from medical malpractice, especially in cases where they suffer catastrophic harm. Every day, we see firsthand how devastating malpractice can be, and we are committed to providing every client with aggressive advocacy and compassionate representation.
Keep reading to hear about a recent success story in which we were able to help one of our clients recover vital compensation and move forward after medical malpractice nearly ended his life.
A Medical Malpractice Success Story from James Wood Law
Our client was a young, healthy, and productive 23-year-old man. He was in the military and was training to be an MMA fighter. On March 31, 2015, he had a sudden onset of stomach pain, so he went to the emergency room. Like anyone who goes to the hospital with a medical emergency, our client trusted that the providers knew what they were doing. He trusted that the hospital was staffed with competent doctors. He trusted that he was in good hands. He trusted that he was receiving the best treatment available.
The hospital and the doctors betrayed that trust.
A Series of Mistakes Leads to Significant Harm
During his initial admission to the Defendant-hospital, our client was diagnosed with a small bowel obstruction. The Defendant-doctor failed to use a nasogastric tube to open the small bowel, which is the accepted standard of care in this situation. This failure to use a nasogastric tube led to our client’s first major surgery.
During this first surgery, the Defendant-doctor misused Seprafilm (a sheet of chemical membrane used to prevent adhesions inside the body). This misuse of Seprafilm caused a second small bowel obstruction in our client, necessitating a second major surgery.
During the second surgery, the Defendant-doctor removed three-quarters of our client’s small bowel, removed his right colon, and failed to tie off critical arteries. Our client almost bled to death - he required blood transfusions totaling more than the original blood volume in his body.
Our client underwent third and fourth major surgeries to stop the massive bleeding. He was airlifted to a higher-level ICU at another hospital suffering from multi-organ failure, including acute kidney failure and liver shock. He did not leave the hospital until over three months later - skeletally thin; missing most of his intestines; cognitively impaired from severe blood loss; and unable to live a normal life due to the permanent effects of the Defendant-hospital’s and Defendant-doctors' mistakes.
A Life Changed Forever
As a result of these several and significant instances of medical malpractice, our client has Short Gut Syndrome, the symptoms of which completely control his life. His heart has been permanently damaged from the traumatic experiences of the multiple surgeries and nearly bleeding to death. He needs monthly iron infusions. This previously healthy young man is now completely disabled. He can no longer work, and he can no longer be in the military. Life as he knew it was over.
Because of the catastrophic and negligent decision by the Defendant-doctor to remove so much of our client’s intestines and bowel, he can no longer absorb nutrients from his food. Due to this, as well as the constant acid reflux that he now lives with, his charming smile has been replaced by a mouth with very few teeth remaining. He loses weight if he eats less than 10,000 calories per day. He has difficulty controlling his bowels. He is forced to spend at least 50 percent of each day on the toilet, oscillating between diarrhea and constipation all day long. He was even late to his own wedding because he was stuck on the toilet.
Getting His Day in Court
Nearly eight years after his injury happened and almost five years after filing his lawsuit, our client finally got to share his experience with a jury. James Wood, a double board-certified trial attorney, served as lead counsel. Attorneys Thomas Wood and Zacary Wilson-Fetrow assisted. The trial lasted almost three weeks. There were tens of thousands of pages of medical records and hundreds of exhibits. Medical experts flew in from Virginia, Chicago, Phoenix, Boston, and Houston to testify for our client.
Throughout the trial, the defense attorney blamed our client, saying he refused medical treatment. The defense attorney called our client a liar, saying his injuries were not as bad as he claimed. When all that failed, the defense attorney tried to get a mistrial.
After each side’s closing arguments, the jury went back to deliberate. After nearly five years of litigation, it was finally in their hands. After nearly three weeks of trial – during which they heard testimony from 20 witnesses from both sides – it took the jury only an hour and a half to render its unanimous verdict in favor of our client.
Our client received a jury verdict in the amount of $23.8 million.
What This Verdict Means
This verdict is one of the largest medical-malpractice verdicts in New Mexico history. But it is more than that – for our client, it is life-changing. He now has options for medical treatment that were not previously available to him. He now has the means to support himself and his family. He now has hope for a better future.
This is what it means to James Wood Law to hold hospitals and doctors accountable.