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Medication error during surgery leaves woman with irreversible brain damage

Patients are often at the mercy of their medical providers. Perhaps nowhere is this more apparent or true than when a patient undergoes a surgical procedure. Even the most vigilant and educated of patients can suffer harm, injury and death while under the effects of anesthesia and under the knife.

A jury recently awarded a woman $4.6 million after a medication error made during surgery resulted in her suffering irreversible brain damage. According to the lawsuit, the woman was undergoing sinus surgery when, due to labeling error, an operating room nurse mistook the over-the-counter nasal decongestant Afrin for a local anesthetic and injected the medication into the woman’s septum.

The effects of the medication error were discovered by the surgeon who, rather than stop the surgery and attempt to counteract the medication’s ill-effects, decided to proceed with the procedure. Subsequently, the woman suffered a heart attack which disrupted the normal oxygen flow to her brain.

As a direct result of the medication error, the woman suffered brain damage which has left her with numerous disabilities including “impaired vision, speech, memory.” She filed a medical malpractice claim against both the surgical center and surgeon who performed the. Despite the defendants’ assertions that the woman made a full recovery and is currently only restricted “by limitations she has imposed on herself,” the jury’s decision to award the woman $4.6 million proves they believed otherwise.

The sizable reward will help the woman afford the medical and rehabilitative care she needs as well as account for lost capacity and income.

Source: Outpatient Surgery, “Unlabeled Meds Lead to $5.1M Verdict: Local anesthetic switch left patient with brain damage,” David Bernard, July 24, 2015