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A California jury has determined that a hospital and anesthesiologist were not liable for wrongful death in the case of a woman who died after undergoing a procedure to remove an intrauterine device, or IUD. The operating surgeon had already reached an out-of-court settlement with the woman’s family, several news outlets reported.

Case background

In April 2011, according to the Fresno Bee, the woman was admitted to Clovis Community Medical Center and underwent a 40-minute operation to locate and remove the IUD and to undergo tubal ligation. At some point during one of these three routine procedures, however, a needle punctured an artery in the patient’s abdomen, leaving a hole the size of a pencil point.

Tragically, the injury went unnoticed and the woman was discharged a few hours later. During the night that followed, more than two quarts of blood drained from the punctured artery into the woman’s abdomen. As a result of the bleeding, she went into cardiac arrest and died.

Alleging medical malpractice, the patient’s husband filed a wrongful death claim against the hospital and anesthesiologist in addition to the suit against the surgeon. However, the twelve-person jury voted unanimously that neither the medical center nor the anesthesiologist had acted negligently. Because the case against the surgeon was settled out of court, the jury was not asked to decide whether his actions had been negligent.

Medical malpractice in California

When a person dies or suffers complications after receiving medical care, it does not always mean that medical malpractice has occurred. The human body can be unpredictable, and negative outcomes sometimes occur that are truly no one’s fault.

In other cases, however, things go wrong unnecessarily and a patient suffers harm because a doctor or other medical provider acted negligently. Health care providers in California have a legal obligation to adhere to certain reasonable, well-established standards of care when providing medical care for patients. Medical malpractice occurs when providers fail to meet that standard of care, resulting in further harm or death to the patient.

When someone is harmed by medical malpractice, the financial consequences can be devastating. These effects may be felt doubly by the surviving family members of patients who are killed by medical errors, as these individuals must cope with the loss of a loved one as well as the accompanying financial hardship.

By pursuing a medical malpractice claim in a court of law, injured patients and their families may be able to recoup their monetary losses, giving them the financial freedom to begin the healing process and move on with their lives. Speak with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer to learn more if you believe you or a loved one has been harmed by medical negligence in California.