Settled - Medical Malpractice Case Settled in Montgomery County for a Confidential Amount.

The Legal Intelligencer Medical Malpractice Case Settled
The Legal Intelligencer

Attorneys Stewart J. Eisenberg and Brian Hall settled a medical malpractice case in Montgomery County for a confidential amount. The client is a resident of Mont Clare, Pennsylvania, and underwent routine, elective surgery in a nearby hospital. This is a case of surgical negligence. On May 18, 2001, the plaintiff underwent routine, elective surgery to remove nearly all of her thyroid gland, a "subtotal thyroidectomy," due to her over-active thyroid.

By their own admission, however, and in direct violation of the applicable standard of care, doctors failed to identify and protect the two nerves that innervate the vocal cords. These two nerves are the right recurrent laryngeal nerve and the left recurrent laryngeal nerve. As a result of this negligence, the vocal cords of plaintiff were paralyzed. Only 45 years old at the time, the plaintiff can no longer speak or breathe without a plastic tube that fits in a surgically-created hole through her neck and into her trachea. Her tracheostomy tube is permanent.

The significant preceding events are as follows: In December 2000, the plaintiff was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism, also called Graves' Disease, may result in an enlarged thyroid gland, or goiter. The treatments for hyperthyroidism include oral medications and surgery. Having been advised of her options, and because she is intolerant of swallowing encapsulated medicines, the plaintiff elected surgical intervention. Her doctor agreed to perform the surgery and the plaintiff obtained surgical clearance. The surgery was scheduled for May 18, 2001.

As a result of the doctors' negligence and wrongdoing during the surgery, the plaintiff continues to suffer profoundly from her injury. She is able to talk and breathe only with the assistance of a permanent tracheostomy tube and a Passy-Muir valve. Although she is able to vocalize, her voice quality has changed significantly since her surgery. Her voice quality is breathy and audibly "different" from normal speech. The plaintiff also suffers every day from severe respiratory compromise. She can no longer go swimming or dancing, nor can she walk long distances for exercise because of the decreased airflow allowed by her tracheostomy tube. Build up of mucus regularly threatens her ability to breathe properly. She periodically requires surgical attention to the stoma, or opening, of her throat due to tissue break-down. Nearly every aspect of the plaintiff's everyday life -- from bathing, to dressing, to walking -- is affected by the hole in her throat necessitated by her paralyzed vocal cords.

Despite the permanent change to her voice that makes it sound "funny," despite her significantly compromised breathing, and despite her continuing embarrassment at being seen in public with her tracheostomy tube, our client struggles on valiantly. Although she lost her job sewing flags after the May 18, 2001 surgery, she has found employment as a checker at a local grocery store. To her great credit, she is attempting to get on with life as best she can. But she lives every day with the effects of the defendants' negligence; she will live with them for the rest of her life.