Medical Malpractice Verdict - Thyroid Surgery

Article posted on:03/06/2008

On Monday, a Massachusetts jury ordered a surgeon to pay $14.5 million in damages to the husband of a woman who died following thyroid surgery. Jurors found that the doctor was responsible for the death and that another surgeon was negligent but not responsible for the death.  The damages were comprised of past medical expenses, future loss of income and benefits and the pain and suffering associated with the death of his wife, along with the pain and suffering experienced by the woman prior to her death.  It is believed that the verdict was among the highest in the state for this type of surgical procedure according to recent reports. 

Complications following thyroid surgery include but are not limited to postoperative bleeding and swelling in the throat and neck area.  Swelling can be particularly concerning because if it is caused by an unrecognized or rapidly expanding hematoma, it can cause airway compromise and asphyxiation.  Following surgeries, imaging studies may be useful toward assessing whether neck swelling is caused by a hematoma or simply due to bruising around the area of surgery.   Another common complication of thyroid surgery is known as current laryngeal nerve injury (RNL).  This results in vocal fold paralysis - the inability to use one's voice on a temporary or permanent basis.  Because the laryngeal nerve is located in close proximity to the thyroid, surgeons must be particularly careful not to damage the nerve during surgery.  When this injury occurs, hoarseness or breathiness typically manifests after the surgery in temporary injuries, whereas paralysis occurs immediately after the surgery.   Injuries to the superior laryngeal nerve can also occur during the surgery, and is actually the most commonly injured nerve during thyroid surgery.  Trauma to the nerve typically results in an inability to create a high-ptiched sound.  Speech therapy is the only treatment that works.   Yet another complication is known as hypoparathyroidism.  Hypoparathyroidsm results from direct trauma to the parathyroid glands.   Typically, patients who develop this type of injury following surgery require various types of therapies. 

If you or a loved one believe that you have suffered an injury as a result of negligence during a surgical procedure, such as thyroid surgery, call the lawyers at Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White for a free consultation or visit our website for a free consultation.  Our attorneys regularly handle these types of cases on a contingency basis, meaning that our firm lays out the expenses in advance and our clients are only required to reimburse us if the case is successful via a settlement or at trial or on appeal.  Our office routinely handles cases and matters in the Baltimore and Washington D.C. areas against physicians and hospitals including Johns Hopkins Hospital, University of Maryland Medical System, St. Joseph's Hospital, Union Memorial Hospital, Bon Secours Hospital, St. Agnes Hospital, Sinai Hospital, Northwest Hospital, Upper Chesapeake Medical Center, Anne Arundel County Medical Center, Howard County General Hospital, Frederick Memorial Hospital, Baltimore Washington Medical Center, Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, and Washington Adventist Hospital.