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Cleveland VA Medical Center Settles $500K Surgical Lawsuit

Mon, 01/07/2013 - 10:40am

The Cleveland VA Medical Center agreed to settle for $500,000 a lawsuit brought by the widow of a 59-year-old veteran after a surgeon perforated his bowel during a surgery to repair a hernia.  Dewey Wise was a truck driver from East Canton, Ohio.  His widow was represented by medical malpractice attorney R. Craig McLaughlin of the Ohio personal injury law firm, Elk & Elk.

McLaughlin's client had surgery in September 2009 to repair a hernia so he could return to work as a truck driver.  Unknown to Mr. Wise and his wife, it was the first time the VA surgeon had ever performed the procedure by himself and he had only been a licensed surgeon for a few months.  A hole in Dewey's intestines was made during the surgery, which allowed the contents of his bowel to spill out into his abdomen.  This was the first medical mistake, but a second mistake was made when the doctors at the VA failed to recognize there was a hole in his bowel until several days later.  Consequently, Mr. Wise became very sick, developed a serious infection, and died several months later.

"It was only supposed to have been a one-day hernia surgery, so I figured he was supposed to go home.  And then when they kept keeping him day after day, then it started running through my mind why isn't he going home?," said the widow, Barbara Wise .  "The men and women who serve our country in the armed forces deserve to receive quality health care at VA medical facilities," McLaughlin said. "Sadly, these types of mistakes happen far too often.  If only this surgeon had followed simple safety rules that are put in place to protect the patient, then this whole tragedy could have been avoided.  Hopefully, having pursued this case will protect other veterans."

This was a Federal Tort Claim Act case brought in the U.S. District Federal Court in Akron, Ohio. The Honorable John R. Adams approved the settlement.

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