Medical malpractice may reach any area of the medical arena. Among the wide array of medical practices, one specialty in which a patient may experience medical malpractice is gynecology. A prime, and extreme, example of medical malpractice occurring in the gynecological setting is what one Brooklyn woman experienced back in October of 2009 at the hands of negligent physicians doctors Paul Byrne, Frederic Moon and Cynthia Fretwell. In this case, Stacey Galette went into Winthrop University Hospital, with complete use of her limbs, for the removal of an ectopic pregnancy. When she left the hospital, she did so without her two legs and most of her hearing.
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when an embryo implants outside of the uterus. This usually occurs within the first weeks of a woman’s pregnancy and is a life-threatening situation for the mother, requiring emergency treatment. This is the situation Stacey Galette, a divorced single mother, found herself in. Ms. Galette was to undergo a laparoscopic procedure, which would ultimately terminate the pregnancy but save her life. During the minimally invasive procedure, the physicians punctured her intestine, which led to an infection that then led to sepsis, followed by gangrene in both of her previously fully functioning legs. The hospital discharged her despite being in extreme pain and it was not until three days later, when she came back, that physicians removed both of her severely damaged legs below the knees. In order to maintain any semblance of mobility, Ms. Galette is forced to use a wheel chair as well as two prosthetic legs.
Attorneys representing defendant hospital argued there should be a mistrial as they believed Ms. Galette should be happy she was alive. Hospital attorneys argue that physicians made the diagnosis quickly, and treated Ms. Galette as best they could, taking into consideration that her condition deteriorated rapidly. The judge did not agree. The trial went on for 12-weeks. The jury took three days to deliberate and ultimately found in favor of Stacey Galette. The jury awarded Ms. Galette $62 million in damages. She was awarded $20 million for previous pain and suffering, $38 million for future pain and suffering, and, finally, $4 million plus interest for medical expenses. Winthrop is planning on appealing the decision as well as the amount of damages Stacey Galette was awarded by the jury. Ms. Galette, in the meantime, says that she is just happy that justice has been served.
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