Even those with far less experience than the top Chicago medical malpractice attorneys of Passen & Powell have heard egregious examples of medical malpractice: Surgery performed on the wrong body part. Misdiagnosed cancer. Delayed labor and delivery causing permanent birth injuries. The list goes on.
It’s easy to call for “tort reform” when you or someone you love has never fallen victim to medical malpractice. However, as the news story out of Florida below makes clear: (1) no one is free from the risk of medical malpractice; (2) the consequences of malpractice are often devastating; and (3) all victims of such negligence are entitled to fair and reasonable compensation — without “one size fits all” arbitrary caps.
The story involved a patient who checked into a hospital for surgery to correct an intestinal condition, diverticulitis. When the surgery was complete, the surgeons closed the patient up. There was just one problem – a sponge was left in the patient’s abdomen. But in this case, the sponge was not what you would normally think of – kitchen-sized, or even a luxurious bath sponge. The sponge left in the patient’s abdomen was a full sized, foot-long by foot-wide giant sponge.
The other problem for this hospital and doctors — aside from leaving a foot-long sponge in a patient’s abdomen — was their victim. The patient whose abdomen was left containing this behemoth was a judge.
The patient in this case was Palm Beach, Florida judge Nelson Bailey, a 67-year old man who suffered months of agony after this atrocity. Indeed, immediately after the surgery to correct his diverticulitis, Judge Bailey’s stomach pain not only did not abate, it began to get worse. Much worse. Our experienced medical malpractice lawyers are unsurprised. In spite of the tendency of laypeople to laugh at “sponge stories,” any foreign object left in the body after surgery, including an innocuous-seeming sponge, is extremely painful and can lead to dramatic damage or even death.
Judge Bailey eventually complained to his doctor, who sent him for a series of CT scans. Shockingly, not one of the abdominal CT scans performed on Judge Bailey detected the presence of a foreign object larger than many laptop computers.
After some time, of course, the sponge was found. But because of the length of time the sponge had been in Judge Bailey’s abdomen, it was now “festering.” Not only was the sponge removed, but physicians were required to remove a portion of Judge Bailey’s intestine, which had been damaged beyond repair by the rotting sponge.
Judge Bailey has now reached a settlement with the hospital and its owner, Tenet Healthcare System. Next, he intends to sue the doctors who committed this atrocity. Our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys wish him the best of luck.
Unfortunately, the amount of damages Judge Bailey can recover for what was clearly, beyond any doubt, medical malpractice is limited. You see, his home state of Florida still maintains caps on the amount of damages a medical malpractice plaintiff can recover – a cap of the sort ruled unconstitutional by our own Illinois Supreme Court. So-called “tort reformers” continue to work hard to undo this protection, even campaigning to unseat the judges who took the courageous stand required to eliminate this unjust law.
We will not speculate as to the nature and extent of the damage suffered by Judge Bailey. But we can say that this act of unquestionable medical negligence calls for complete compensation, for all the harm he has suffered.
Judge Bailey has now begun to speak out against caps on damages in medical malpractice cases, an issue that was never of importance to him before because, as he candidly admits, “that is not my area of law” — and also because he never before felt the draconian impact of such a law.
For a free consultation with an experienced Chicago medical malpractice lawyer at Passen & Powell, call us at (312) 527-4500.