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Levinson Axelrod Secures $2M Settlement Over Fatal Surgical Error

Levinson Axelrod, P.A. Partner Adam L. Rothenberg and Senior Associate Rosemary McGeady, M.D. recently secured a $2M settlement in a medical malpractice case involving an elderly patient who experienced serious complications as the result of a surgical error committed during a kidney removal procedure.

The patient, a 71-year-old New Jersey woman, ultimately passed away as the result of her injuries.

About the Case

As indicated in court records, the patient was a 71-year-old woman admitted to a local hospital in June 2015 for robotic partial nephrectomy of a left renal mass (a surgical removal of a portion of the kidney). The procedure was converted to a radical nephrectomy (removal of the entire kidney) due to the size of the tumor and proximity to the hilum according to the doctors.

Following her procedure, the patient was found to be anuric (unable to pass urine) with bilateral lower extremity weakness. Additionally, a CAT scan revealed an aortic thrombosis, a rare and potentially fatal condition. She was transferred to another facility where operating surgeons found the aorta had been completely transected with a staple line across the superior mesenteric artery.  The aorta was not supposed have been cut, stapled or involved in the nephrectomy in any way. She underwent an aorta-to-aorta bypass graft to attempt to repair the damage.

Over the next several weeks, the woman was in a fragile state of health, and required continuous support and medical attention, including ventilator support, pressor agents for hypotension, intravenous antibiotics, and reintubation for respiratory distress. 

Ultimately, she passed away as a result of the injury and complications, almost four months after the initial surgery. She remained conscious and aware of the surgical errors for almost the entirety of that time.

Investigating an Underlying Cause: Surgical Error

An investigation into the initial procedure determined that during the radical nephrectomy, the primary operating robotic surgeon or his assisting partner negligently stapled the aorta. The mistake ultimately led to the patient’s severe complications, and, as claimed in the lawsuit, her preventable death.

Following considerable written discovery, the defendants stipulated to liability and causation, meaning they did not disagree as to the cause of the patient’s injuries, nor to the fact that they were liable. This was done prior to depositions of the surgeons, which later revealed that neither could explain how or why the stapling of the aorta occurred. The depositions also established unequivocally that the placement of the staples would have had to occur with some knowledge that staples had been used in an unintended place.

Shortly after depositions, the defendants’ insurer tended a policy limits settlement for $2,000,000.00, covering both the primary and assisting surgeon. Medical liens totaled approximately $250,000.

Fighting for Medical Malpractice Victims Across New Jersey

The significant result secured by Attorney Adam Rothenberg, a NJ Bar Certified Civil Trial Lawyer, and Attorney Rosemary McGeady, a Board Certified Physician, speak volumes about the need for experienced representation in complex claims – especially those involving medical malpractice and surgical errors. Given their extensive and specialized insight, Adam and Rosemary were able to effectively navigate the highly technical information and medical evidence in the case, and ultimately obtain the justice our clients deserved.

Levinson Axelrod, P.A. is a Civil Trial Law Firm that’s fighting for victims and families across New Jersey since 1939. Over the years, our attorneys have secured numerous six-figure and multi-million dollar settlements and verdicts, as well as over $4 billion in compensation for our clients. If you have a potential case you wish to discuss with an attorney, call (732) 440-3089 for a free consultation.

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