California News

Family Awarded $340,000 in Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

A California jury awarded $340,000 to the family of a man who bled to death 10 hours after his gall bladder surgery in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

The jury found the doctor who performed the surgery, Dr. James Smith, at fault for the negligent care of Michael Woodie, which directly resulted in his death in 2003.

Plaintiff attorney Stephen Fredkin argued that Smith failed on several charges to prevent Woodie from dying. The lawsuit alleges that Smith performed the gall bladder operation too soon. Furthermore, the doctor neglected to order sufficient oversight of Woodie’s condition after the surgery leading to his death.

According to the lawsuit, Woodie suffered two heart attacks in 2002 and two stents were put in his arteries. A cardiologist placed Woodie on a treatment plan consisting of one aspirin a day and Plavix, a nonclotting drug.

However, within several months, it was determined that Woodie’s continued pain and loss of appetite was caused by a problem with his gall bladder. In May of 2003, Woodie was admitted to a hospital and would undergo surgery. Smith took Woodie off Plavix to eliminate clotting complications.

But Woodie died 10 hours after surgery. The lawsuit claims that Smith performed the “elective” operation only three days after Woodie stopped taking Plavix, rather than the five-day wait recommended by the drug manufacturer.

“There was no medical urgency justifying the shortened time,” Fredkin said. Fredkin also alleges that Smith didn’t order adequate monitoring of Woodie after the gall bladder operation, despite his “high-risk” for surgery.

“One day in the ICU (intensive care unit) should have been ordered by Dr. Smith, and Mr. Woodie would be alive today,” Fredkin wrote in court documents.

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