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Removal of wrong testicle leads to $870,000 malpractice verdict

Many human organs and body parts come in right-left pairs. When one of the pair must be removed from the body or amputated, the surgeon must take extreme care to ensure that the afflicted body part is removed and the healthy organ or body part is not touched. Despite modern preventative procedures that include the physician signing the organ or body part that will be excised, removal of the healthy counterpart still prompts medical malpractice lawsuits in Maryland and elsewhere.

A recent jury verdict in favor of the plaintiff was based upon a classic example of the wrong body part removal syndrome. The patient had complained for years of chronic pain in his right testicle. Clinical examination and medical scans showed that the right testicle was about half the size of its counterpart. The man's physician recommend amputation when other efforts at a cure had failed.

Unfortunately, the surgeon removed the healthy left testicle. The patient commenced a lawsuit alleging malpractice on the part of the surgeon. The jury agreed, returning a verdict that awarded the plaintiff $870,000 in damages. The damages were divided into two parts: $620,000 in compensatory damages for medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering, and $250,000 in punitive damages. The award of punitive damages was based upon the jury's conclusion that the surgeon was "recklessly indifferent" in his treatment of the plaintiff. The verdict will be subject to post-trial motions and perhaps an appeal before any funds will be paid out.

This case shows how even an ordinarily competent doctor can lose sight of the duty to treat all patients with due care. Anyone who has suffered an injury or lost a loved one because of a physician's surgical error may wish to consult an attorney who is experienced in handling medical malpractice claims for an evaluation of the facts and law that will determine the outcome of the case.

Source: Fox 43, "Pennsylvania doctor removes wrong testicle, jury awards victim $870,000," Cale Ahearn, June 16, 2017

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