Medical Malpractice - Surgical Malpractice

Kathy Kettles-Russotti recently obtained an extraordinary settlement in an extremely difficult medical malpractice case.

Terry* was born attached at the pelvis to her twin sister Tara*. Separated at 18 months, each sister had one leg and Terry, the smaller twin, had a deformity of the spine and difficulties with stone formations in her bladder. Despite her limitations, it didn't deter Terry from attending Community College and working part-time.

During her teenage years, Terry had multiple surgeries as a result of her congenital problems. Because of the stone formation in her bladder, a urologist recommended that Terry have a procedure to detach the ureters, (tubes which drain urine from the kidneys to the bladder) and bring them through a piece of bowel onto the abdominal wall to drain into a bag. Intervention was necessary because the stones in the ureters were causing damage to the kidneys. Terry didn't want the surgery because of her post-operative problems with breathing as a result of her small lung capacity. However, she was told without the surgery she could die of kidney problems, so she relented.

During the surgery, the urologist found adhesions (from prior abdominal surgeries) which matted her organs making it impossible to identify her ureters. Nevertheless, the surgeon proceeded and during the course of "lysing" the adhesions, her bowel was perforated and a portion of her bowel had to be removed. Terry was not told of the perforation of her bowel and she was discharged prematurely from the hospital. She returned three days later with an infection from bowel perforation. Terry developed Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome and was hospitalized for almost two years because she could not be weaned from a respirator. Today, Terry lives independently with a home health aid for 8 hours a day. At night, she sleeps while attached to a respirator. The settlement proceeds will allow Terry to purchase her home and make it suitable for her disabilities, pay for her own health insurance and escape from an extremely limited income. No longer will she rely on Medicaid and state disability payments. Investment of her recovery in a trust will provide for her needs for the rest of her life. A great budgeter, Terry's luxury will be a separate room for her to do craft projects which she loves. Kathy explains, "Terry is a wonderful person and it was a privilege for me to advocate on her behalf. I have said before, nursing was a great career in terms of caring, but being a trial lawyer is just as meaningful when your can help a person regain independence and brighten her life."

* The names have been changed for confidentiality.

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