In 2008, Vivian Gagliano underwent a routine hernia operation performed by Dr. Joseph Gordon and Dr. Venkata Bodavula, who was a resident surgeon at the time, at Danbury Hospital, Connecticut. All seemed well until she was stitched up and released. Legal Examiner contributor Eric Chaffin recounts how a little act of negligence cost their employer millions for a New York medical malpractice settlement.
Neither doctor realized that during the operation, Gagliano’s colon had been punctured. They closed her up, and hours later, she suffered a massive abdominal infection.
The ensuing months were torture. In 2010, Gagliano filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctors and the hospital. In June 2014, a jury from the Danbury Superior Court awarded her $12 million in damages.
When bacteria infect the human body, vital organs are compromised and slowly become dysfunctional. The body responds to overwhelming infection by going into septic shock, which began when the plaintiff’s colon was punctured, thereby releasing waste material into her system. This caused inflammation throughout her body, potentially damaging vital organs. The plaintiff was 65 years old at the time.
Investigators theorize that the presence of an inexperienced surgical resident, Dr. Bodavula, may be the cause. Though Dr. Bodavula has denied that he caused the puncture in Ms. Gagliano’s colon, legal experts, such as those from The Law Offices of Joseph M. Lichtenstein, are of the belief that he is the likely suspect.
The Insurance Journal notes that Bodavula denied having anything to do with the perforation, stating he assisted Gordon in beginning the operation, but wasn’t responsible for the mistake.
Danbury states on its website that it is in its fourth year of a general surgery residency program. “The faculty at Danbury Hospital is relatively young and predominantly fellowship trained,” the site says.
Appeal in progress
In a bid to exonerate themselves, neither the doctors nor the hospital agree with the court’s verdict and are considering filing an appeal. Sepsis and septic shock have caused more deaths than heart attacks as of late. When something is that rampant, any medical institution worth its salt would have taken precautions to prevent it, but the numbers continue to rise. Perhaps hospital administrators would come around after another case of medical malpractice in NYC takes them to court once more.
In the meantime, victims of medical malpractice in NYC and surrounding areas would be relieved to know that they could count on medical malpractice law firms in the area like The Law Offices of Joseph M. Lichtenstein to back their cause.
(Source: “Woman Suffers Septic Shock After Hernia Surgery—Wins $12 Million”, 09 September 2014, The Legal Examiner)