Jury awards $3.5 million to woman in botched breast surgery

Medical Malpractice Trial Lawyers Report, 2006

Loss of Both Breasts Following Breast Reduction Surgery

The plaintiff was a 63-year-old woman who had undergone breast reduction surgery in Canada when she was 18 years old. After the passing of many years, and after birthing three children and gaining forty pounds, her breasts had grown large again and she was experiencing neck, shoulder and back pain. She went to see the defendant plastic surgeon in October, 2002, to discuss a second breast reduction operation.

The defendant proceeded with breast reduction surgery in December, 2002. The defendant assumed the records from Canada were not available, and did not attempt to obtain these records. There was a factual dispute whether the plaintiff was able to remember the details of the prior breast reduction in Canada, and whether she discussed the details with the defendant prior to the surgery in 2002. The defendant claimed to have asked the plaintiff questions regarding the prior surgery so the defendant could try to obtain those records, but the plaintiff could not provide enough information to allow the defendant to request the records.

The defendant performed the breast reduction, without the prior records, using an inferior pedicle technique. In simplest terms, this technique removes tissue from the top of the breast and preserves blood flow on the bottom of the breast. It is an excellent technique and the most common approach in use in 2002 and today. The plaintiff was able to show, however, that in the early 1960’s the predominant method for breast reductions was a superior pedicle technique in which tissue is removed  from the bottom of the breast and blood flow is preserved on the top of the breast.

The plaintiff claimed that the standard of care in a repeat breast reduction was to utilize the same technique that was used in the prior breast reduction. The plaintiff further claimed that in cases where the prior technique could not be determined, the standard of care was to perform a free nipple graft. The plaintiff alleged that because the defendant used the incorrect technique, she was caused to suffer a lack of adequate blood flow to her breasts resulting in tissue necrosis. The plaintiff subsequently required what was essentially a double mastectomy to remove the necrotic tissue.

The defendant claimed that while there was certainly an unfortunate and undesired result, the defendant fully complied with the standard of care at all times. The defendant also pointed out that there were lengthy discussions about the risks of the procedure, and that those discussions were documented in the medical records of the pre-operative office visits. Among the risks discussed and documented were tissue necrosis and the need for further surgery. The defendant also claimed that the plaintiff may well have suffered the same outcome regardless of which technique was used in 2002.

The case was tried over five days. The jury deliberated for four and half hours before returning its verdict. The jury found the defendant was negligent and that the defendant failed to obtain the plaintiff’s informed consent. The jury awarded the plaintiff a total of $3,000,000 for past and future scarring, disfigurement, and pain and suffering. The jury also awarded $500,000 to the plaintiff’s husband for his loss of consortium claim.

Lubin & Meyer attorneys represented the plaintiff in this breast reduction surgery medical malpractice lawsuit.

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