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How one patient paid the ultimate price for hospital negligence

Undergoing surgery is nerve-wracking for any patient, even when it's a relatively minor procedure. So many things can go wrong. Ultimately, we have to trust that the surgeon and hospital staff will take extremely good care of us - and most of the time, they do.

But for an unlucky few, that's not the case. Far too many postoperative patients end up suffering horrific complications because of medical negligence.

What started as colon surgery ended with double leg amputation

A Pennsylvania man experienced such a nightmare following colon repair surgery. A few months after the surgery, he was again hospitalized with severe abdominal pain. The hospital staff who were supposed to be monitoring him failed to promptly report his condition to the surgeon. As it turns out, he was suffering from a major complication and medical emergency: a perforated colon that was leaking fluids into his abdominal cavity.

By the time the staff finally took action, the patient had developed a widespread infection, resulting in septic shock. Both of his legs had to be amputated because of gangrene. He underwent seven follow-up surgeries to undo the damage.

The patient recently won an $8.78 million jury verdict against the hospital - the largest malpractice verdict in Butler County.

When every second counts...

While extreme, this case illustrates just how serious postoperative complications can become, especially when hospital staff members don't do their jobs. Infection in particular is a major risk after any surgery. In fact, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, more than 700,000 patients developed hospital-acquired infections in 2011 alone. Approximately 75,000 of those patients died.

These infections require swift action to keep them under control. Failure to promptly identify or treat hospital infections - or any other postoperative complication - can have disastrous consequences, especially when every second counts.

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