A mother of three has filed a lawsuit after a horrific surgical error led to an infection resulting in the amputation of her hands and feet. As a half-dozen local and nationwide news reports have shown, not only is our client claiming negligence on behalf of her doctors, but she is also challenging a state law.
Routine Operation Ends in Amputation
It happened in July 2015 when Adrienne Harris was diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy, a complication that happens when a fertilized egg attaches itself in a place other than inside the uterus. It’s a fairly common issue that occurs in 1 out of 50 pregnancies, according to the American Pregnancy Association.
In Adrienne’s case, the egg was attached to the fallopian tube and required surgery to fix. Her doctors recommended that she have her fallopian tube removed – a relatively routine surgery that would ordinarily only require an overnight stay in the hospital.
But during the operation, something went terribly wrong-and even worse, went unnoticed.
According to our firm’s Managing Partner, Charles Monnett, “during her surgery, there was an injury to her bowel that went undetected, undiagnosed, and unrepaired.” The surgical error created a hole in her small intestine, allowing its contents to leak into her abdomen. This caused her body to suffer sepsis, a life-threatening complication resulting from an infection.
By the time doctors realized their mistake two days later, her body had suffered irreversible damage. The mistake required additional surgery to repair the hole-resulting in the removal of portions of her small bowel and colon.
“It just snowballed. One mistake after the other,” Monnett said.
Harris was clinging to life in the ICU as she underwent even more surgeries that persisted for months. She suffered organ damage while sepsis caused gangrene to spread on her hands and feet. The infection was so bad that treatment was no longer an option. Adrienne’s condition required the amputation of her hands and feet. Even more, Harris will no longer be able to digest food by mouth for the rest of her life.
Medical Malpractice Suit Filed
Adrienne filed a medical malpractice lawsuit, naming Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority – also known as Carolinas Healthcare or Atrium Health along with Dr. Lynn C. Pitson, Dr. Kathryn E. Webb and Dr. Tara M. Vick responsible for medical negligence.
Adrienne’s case has been liked to a phenomenon known as “The July Effect” which associates the risk in medical errors and medical complications with the time in the year in which United States medical school graduates begin residencies.
According to the lawsuit, Webb was a resident when she performed the surgery under Pitson’s supervision. The resident’s inexperience was allegedly a factor in the botched surgery. Attorney Monnett commented, “She would have had a limited experience just by the fact that she was a resident.”
Challenging North Carolina’s $500,000 Cap on Damages
At the forefront of her lawsuit is the issue of North Carolina’s “cap” on medical malpractice recoveries which limits the amount of compensation (aka damages) an injured individual can seek. Established in 2011, the cap only allows plaintiffs to receive a maximum of $500,000 from this type of lawsuit.
But her attorney argues that Adrienne’s injuries are so severe and life-altering that she should be able to claim damages beyond the cap. She suffered through unspeakable pain. “No one can imagine what it would be like to suddenly wake up one day with no hands and no feet,” Monnett said.
Attorney Monnett is making a constitutional challenge to North Carolina’s cap. He says it is an “arbitrary and capricious deprivation of the constitutional rights of an injured individual to recover non-economic damages.” Monnett believes that a jury that hears all the evidence should be allowed to determine appropriate financial restitution for Adrienne.
“She’s lost her ability to live a normal life. She’s lost the ability to care for her children,” Monnett explained. “Why should the politicians in Raleigh be allowed to tell her what that is worth?”
Have You Experienced Medical Malpractice?
If you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice, it’s important to seek legal advice right away. Medical malpractice cases can be extremely complex, require extensive knowledge, and time restrictions can impede your rights to recover.
If you need legal advice, the medical negligence lawyers at Charles G. Monnett III & Associates can help. Our team does not back down against large corporations and companies which put profits over people. We don’t back down to insurance companies with large, well-paid, legal teams. Our lawyers will evaluate your case, and if warranted, file a claim and lead you through the intricacies of a lawsuit with the goal of getting you the maximum compensation you deserve.