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Medical malpractice nightmares

It is often true that when a person enters a hospital, they are in dire straits. Often in need of surgery, they have little choice emotionally but to trust the doctor in whose hands their fate rests.

A health and medicine website recently compiled a list of the times when that trust patients put in doctors was misplaced. These instances of doctor negligence, medical errors, misdiagnosis and medical malpractice are horrifying, though instructive.

The first instance of malpractice listed is from a few years ago, right here in West Virginia. A 73-year-old preacher experienced anesthetic awareness (being aware of what is happening) during surgery. The man experienced the extreme pain and discomfort of abdominal surgery throughout the procedure.

Two weeks later, he killed himself. He could not bear the traumatic aftereffects of his nightmare experience.

Misdiagnosis: after doctors found a lump on the side of a woman's face, they told her she had terminal cancer. Her life could be slightly prolonged if she had surgery to remove the growth, however. Because she had two young sons, she quickly agreed to the procedure that promised a few more months were her kids.

The surgery left her "slightly disfigured," according to a media report.

Doctors later told her that the diagnosis had been incorrect. She had never had cancer and that the operation and disfigurement had never been needed.

Another case of malpractice: wrong-site surgery. Doctors amputated the wrong leg of a 52-year-old Florida man.

The surgeon's official punishment: a $10,000 fine and a 6-month suspension of his medical license.

Many victims of medical malpractice believe that those light official slaps on the wrists of doctors are an injustice. They pursue justice on their own with the help of a law firm dedicated to medical malpractice litigation.

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