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Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers > Blog > Articles > Doctor Removes Wrong Rib from Patient During Surgery and Attempts to Cover Up the Mistake

Doctor Removes Wrong Rib from Patient During Surgery and Attempts to Cover Up the Mistake

It is a surprisingly common occurrence for doctors and surgeons to make a blatant error during a procedure, and worse yet they may try and cover up their mistake or blame the patient to avoid liability for the damages that resulted from their malpractice. In the event that a doctor commits malpractice and tries to cover up the mistake in bad faith, they could be held accountable for damages above and beyond the economic and non-economic harms caused to the patient based on their mistake.

Punitive Damages May Be Awarded to Malpractice Victims in the Event of a Coverup

chest and lung x-rayMalpractice victims are generally entitled to both economic and non-economic damages that stem from a Maryland medical malpractice claim. Economic damages account for the actual costs of the defendant’s negligence, and they include medical bills, rehabilitation expenses, funeral costs, and lost wages. Non-economic damages can include compensation for the victim’s pain and suffering, as well as payments to family members of a malpractice victim who are left without the full companionship of their loved one because of the malpractice committed by a defendant.

A third type of damages can be awarded in addition to economic and non-economic damages in the event that a doctor commits egregious or outrageous conduct. These damages, known as punitive damages, are awarded to punish a medical provider for especially egregious behavior.

What Can Constitute Egregious and Outrageous Conduct to Justify Punitive Damages?

Since doctors occupy a special position of trust with the public, any medical malpractice that results in serious consequences to a victim can seem egregious, although not all malpractice claims are appropriate for a punitive damages award. Some types of behavior, such as an intentional coverup of medical malpractice by a doctor, or operating on a patient while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, may warrant a punitive damages award. Medical providers may also be held accountable for punitive damages in the event that they consciously disregarded the commission of malpractice as it was occurring or intentionally caused harm to a patient in a way that exceeded simple negligence. There are other types of behavior that can subject a medical provider to a punitive damages claim, and victims of medical malpractice should consult with a qualified Maryland medical malpractice attorney to find out if punitive damages may be appropriate in their case.

Connecticut Surgeon Removes Wrong Rib During Surgery and Allegedly Lies to Patient Afterwards

A recent news article explains a case that may be appropriate for a medical malpractice claim to include punitive damages. According to the news source, a Connecticut woman was supposed to have a rib removed in May 2015 in an operation at the Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut. After the operation, the woman was still experiencing pain, and a subsequent X-ray revealed that the wrong rib had been removed, and metal coils had been left in her body from the initial operation. One doctor told her of the mistakes and the need for a follow up surgery to fix the mistakes, but the surgeon himself allegedly notified the woman the next day that the correct rib had been operated on, but too little of the bone was removed, and another surgery was necessary.

According to the woman’s complaint, the metal coils that were left in her body were not even mentioned in the surgeon’s explanation of why another surgery was needed. The complaint requested punitive damages from the defendant, claiming that not only was he negligent in removing the incorrect rib and leaving metal coils in her body, but also his behavior in attempting to cover up the mistake was egregious enough to warrant additional damages. The case has not yet gone to trial.

Are You a Victim of Medical Malpractice?

If you or someone you love may be a victim of medical malpractice, a skilled and effective Maryland medical malpractice attorney can help seek the compensation that you deserve. The qualified Maryland and Washington, D.C. medical malpractice attorneys at Wais, Vogelstein, Forman, Koch & Norman have experience handling difficult medical malpractice claims, and we can effectively argue for all of the types of damages you may need. Our malpractice lawyers have offices in the Baltimore/Washington area and Northern Virginia, and we represent victims of medical malpractice nationwide. Contact a qualified Maryland and D.C. malpractice attorney at Wais, Vogelstein, Forman, Koch & Norman today. Call us at (410) 567-0800 or contact us through our website to schedule a risk-free consultation.

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