surgical complication

Surgical Complication Not Evidence of Negligence

The Physicians Insurance defense team is proud to announce that a Washington jury rejected a $2.7 million claim against one of its policyholders. The case centered around a patient’s allegation that a damaged ureter during a hysterectomy (a known risk of the procedure) was caused by improper surgical technique. Physicians Insurance assembled a legal team to vigorously defend our physician client—who had over 30 years in practice—and showed that the standard of care was met. The legal team engaged with two deeply credentialed experts who practiced in ob-gyn and urology to refute the plaintiff’s claim. 

A post-trial interview with jury members revealed just how effective the case presented by Physicians Insurance was. The jury appreciated the focus on informing them of the facts and medical details of the case, as well as the calm tone and civil approach our attorneys took with the witness, especially in contrast to the plaintiff’s more aggressive demeanor. 

The team knew how crucial it was that the jury understood everything about the case, from relevant anatomy to the medical procedure, the standard of care, and the known risks of the operation. To that end, the team employed focus groups to evaluate the understandability of the defense, which helped it present a succinct and simple story. The jurors were significantly moved by that clarity of presentation. 

The two experts testified extensively that the surgery was indicated, informed consent was obtained, and the surgery was appropriately performed. It is believed that the damaged ureter resulted from a thermal burn, which takes days to declare itself in this type of injury. 

After experiencing a delayed recovery due to the surgical complication, the plaintiff fully recovered. The plaintiff initially alleged possible future medical needs, but at trial made no claims for past or future medical care and only sought non-economic general damages. The jury related to us that they found the experts both credible and understandable, and that they admired the calm and respectful approach of our legal team. Add all these factors together, and it is no wonder they were able to confidently return a defense verdict.