Family of Teen Girl Declared "Brain Dead" After Botched Surgery Sues Hospital for Malpractice

A claim has been filed by the family of Jahi McMath, a now 13-year-old girl who has been on a ventilator and feeding tube for over a year since being declared brain dead in December 2013 after complications for a tonsil-removal surgery at the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland, CA. According to a CBS News report, the lawsuit alleges that the doctors and hospital personnel were negligent in treating the girl and should be held responsible for her death.

operation-1389104-m.jpgThe complaint alleges, among other things, that the girl lost over two pints of blood, that a doctor didn’t arrive to treat her until hours after the surgery was going poorly, and that the hospital personnel declared her brain dead prematurely and took her off the life support systems too early.

Medical Procedures and Their Attendant Risks
Nearly every medical procedure includes some implicit risk of injury or death if everything does not go as planned. Some higher risk procedures may offer less than a 50% chance of survival, but many patients will elect to risk undergoing a high risk procedure because they decide that the risk of undergoing the procedure is worth the chance of being disease-free. Since some patients fully wish to undergo a surgery that they may not survive, it is not appropriate for every doctor to be held responsible when a patient dies during a procedure. The liability of a doctor for a Maryland medical malpractice lawsuit filed after complications from a medical procedure can come down to two factors, informed consent and the professional standard of care.

Standard of Care
Doctors in the United States can be held accountable for medical malpractice if they fail to uphold the professional standard of care due to the patient given the circumstances, and the patient suffered injury or damages as a result of the doctor’s failure to comply with the standard of care. The professional standard of care can be defined as the level and quality of care that a reasonable medical professional would give to the particular patient considering the applicable facts. The standard of care can vary based on the doctor and the patient, but when a doctor makes a mistake that no reasonable doctor would intentionally make, and a patient is injured or killed, they can often be held accountable for medical malpractice.

Informed Consent
The doctrine of informed consent is a medical and legal doctrine that is based on the idea that a patient should have access to and understanding of all of the relevant information regarding a medical procedure before agreeing to undergo the treatment. A doctor can be found to be violating the professional standard of care if he or she doesn’t obtain informed consent from a patient before starting a risky or elective procedure.

To obtain the informed consent of a patient, a doctor is not just required to get the patient to say yes. The patient must comprehend the questions being asked, have the ability to understand that information, and be able to give voluntary consent. If a doctor fails to obtain informed consent for a procedure, or if a doctor misleads or deliberately ignores the incompetence of a patient in obtaining informed consent, he or she can be held civilly liable for the damages by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Have You Been Injured by a Physician’s Medical Malpractice?

Injured patients and the families of those who have passed away may be able to recover for their medical costs, lost wages, effects of permanent disabilities, funeral costs, loss of companionship, and pain and suffering, among other things. If you or someone you love has been injured or passed away while obtaining medical treatment, you may be entitled to damages. The Baltimore medical malpractice attorneys at Wais, Vogelstein, Forman & Offutt are experienced in holding the medical industry accountable for their mistakes, and we know how to get the fairest settlements and jury verdicts for our clients. If you think you may have a case, call Wais, Vogelstein, Forman & Offutt today at 888-952-9669 or schedule a free consultation on our website.

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