In Oregon, it is generally common to find a significant percentage of malpractice claims based on mishaps that occur during a routine surgical procedure. When a client goes in for removal of a gall bladder or an appendix, death is not generally a big risk factor. When a surgical error leads to death in common, non-life-threatening procedures, the family of the decedent may find it worthwhile to investigate the details of what occurred prior to signing off on the matter.

There are several kinds of surgeries that can occur near or adjacent to the bowel. These procedures implicate potential damage to the bowel. A punctured bowel, if not treated aggressively and quickly, can lead to a series of events that tend to risk death. These issues were central to a recent medical negligence case in which a jury entered a verdict of $3 million in favor of the widower of 64-year-old woman who died from surgical complications.

The woman had gone into the hospital for what her lawsuit described as a routine surgical procedure, i.e., the removal of an ovarian cyst. During the procedure, the gynecological surgeon negligently pierced the woman's bowel, but he did not perform a required check for such damage before closing her up. When the woman complained of certain symptoms after the surgery, the surgeon did not respond adequately under the circumstances, thus allowing the complications of a punctured bowel to kill the woman.

Although two qualified experts testified that the gynecological surgeon met the required standard of care for that procedure, the jury believed the testimony of the plaintiff's experts. The jury determined that the surgeon neglected to identify the surgical error and further contributed to the outcome by not properly treating and diagnosing the patient after the surgery. The liability outcome would likely be similar here in Oregon based on this state's medical negligence laws.

Source: ajc.com, "DeKalb jury awards $3 million in medical malpractice case", Bill Rankin, Jan. 27, 2016