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Woman awarded $26 million after surgery caused brain damage

Going under the knife can be an understandably stressful event for Maryland patients. Although most people trust their doctors implicitly, even minor mistakes can cause permanent damage. Catastrophic injuries -- including brain damage -- have life-long implications that can severely affect a person's ability to continue his or her life as normal.

A jury recently awarded $26 million to an out-of-state woman after she suffered serious permanent injuries from a medical error. In Oct. 2012, the woman underwent neck surgery at a hospital in her area. Although she was sent home soon after, three days after the surgery she returned to the hospital via the emergency room. She was struggling to swallow and breathe and complained of significant neck pain.

After being admitted to the ER, she waited over six hours to be seen by the doctor who had performed her surgery. According to hospital policy, she should have been seen within two hours. By the time doctors finally got around to treating her it was too late, and the damage from her surgery had already been done. Complications from the neck surgery caused her to suffer brain damage, induced blindness and left her confined to a wheelchair.

She and her husband went on to file suit against the hospital and several attending staff, and although her husband passed away in 2015 the award was still on behalf of both. At the end of the two-week trial, the jury found that the hospital was 100 percent at fault for the injuries. The woman had previously settled with the doctor who performed her surgery for an undisclosed amount.

Medical malpractice lawsuits are essential for the health and safety of all patients in Maryland. When patients suffer serious injuries, brain damage or other negative outcomes from a medical provider's actions, the physical, emotional and financial toll can be overwhelming. These suits often provide necessary compensation for medical care and related damages, and can also help implement institutional changes that protect future patients from similar outcomes.

Source:, "Jury reaches $26 million verdict against St. Francis Hospital", Chuck Williams, Dec. 11, 2017

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