Do I have a case if I was admitted to a V. A. hospital for a pacemaker and during the surgery the surgeon nicked my left lung with a needle?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Do I have a case if I was admitted to a V. A. hospital for a pacemaker and during the surgery the surgeon nicked my left lung with a needle?

The surgeon admitted to this. The next morning my chest cavity had filled with air. They had to do an emergency chest tube procedure. I had to be I.C.U. for a couple of days They did an X-ray the doctor said that my lung and heart had pushed to the left. Not a good thing since he had just a pacemaker the day before. Then, 3 days later, they removed the tube after during water seal for 24 hours. My condition did improve. One of the doctors told me the first tube hadn’t been placed in far enough. Over my skin got air under it, my chest area, face, and left eye swelled shut. I had to go to I.C.U.I had to have a second tube put in. My chest cavity again filled with air again. The doctor who that was going to do the procedure. Brought her niece with her to work.She was in and out of my room several times. They placed the second tube. Which was left in for 10 days. I was X-rayed 3 times a day every day. They water sealed the tube for several days. Did pinch the tube shut for two days before removing it. After removing the tube things did go well.l also was in X-ray. The X-ray tech placed the chest tube drain box on the floor himself. Then he tripped over the tube. which caused me excruciating pain. I had the thoracic doctor check everything and got an X-ray as soon as I could. Luckily no injury.

I feel I had to go thru a lot of unnecessary pain, stress, medical procedures. When I went in for a simple pacemaker.

Asked on August 22, 2016 under Malpractice Law, Iowa


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Based on what you write, you appear to have a case. There are--to oversimplify somewhat--two components to a malpractice case: liability, or doing something wrong; and damages, or having some physical or financial harm which you should be compensated for. Placing the tube wrong, so as to cause you  injury and require additional medical procedures, seems to be negligent, or unreasonably careless, which is the wrongful act which could establish liability. And the injury would be your out-of-pocket cost for the additional procedures; lost wages due to missing work (if any); and possibly "pain and suffering" for the ordeal (the pain, the being confined to bed or a hospital for additional time, etc.) you went through, though if you have not had lasting effects from this malpractice, the pain and suffering component will typically be small; generally, you only get significant pain and suffering awards for many months (or more) of fairly significant life impairment or disability.
If you did recover quickly, don't have lasting effects, had little out-of-pocket costs (e.g. you had good insurance), and didn't miss much work or lose much money in other ways, it's possible the case is not worth much: the law only provides compensation for the actual harm (economic and physical) you suffered. Since a malpractice suit can be expensive (you should have a lawyer; and you *must* hire a medical expert to do a report and testify), it's possible the suit is not economically worthwhile, if despite how frightening or stressful it must have been, you didn't lose much money and have emerged well and quickly from the ordeal. A good idea would be to consult in person with a medical malpractice attorney in detail (e.g. with copies of your records; with any evidence of costs you incurred) to discuss the case and see if it's worth pursuing. Many such attorneys provide a free initial consultation to evaluate a case; you can ask about this before making the appointment. Good luck.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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