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Man suffers brain damage after doctor allegedly leaves surgery

North Carolina residents may be interested in the story of a family who received an anonymous phone call about how their relative ended up in a vegetative state after an open-heart surgery. The 72-year-old man initially went into a health care facility on March 31, 2012, with chest pains. He was rushed to nearby Fresno Regional Medical Center in California, where three days later he underwent surgery for two heart defects. At some point during the surgery, he suffered complications and slipped into a vegetative state. He has remained in that condition since the surgery.

More than a year after the surgery, the patient's stepson received an anonymous call from a person who claimed to have been in the room during the operation. The person alleged that potential doctor negligence led to the man's condition. The caller said that the surgeon had left the operation early to attend a luncheon that was approximately 20 to 30 minutes away. The surgeon left the physician's assistant to close the patient's chest even though the assistant was not authorized to do so.

The caller also directed the stepson to an article in the local paper about a state health department inquiry into a 2012 surgery at Fresno Regional in which the doctor allegedly left the surgery early. Although the article didn't identify the patient or the doctor, the stepson said all the information matched up with his stepfather. The department's report indicates that the patient bled from his chest after he was stitched up and that his heart quivered and ultimately crashed.

The family has filed a lawsuit against the doctor, the Fresno Regional Medical Center and Valley Cardiac Surgery Medical Group. A representative for the hospital said the patient suffered a known complication of the surgery and that the doctor's actions did not contribute to the man's condition. Medical malpractice suits can be extremely technical and complicated. An experienced malpractice attorney could help a patient navigate the complexities and present their case in court or in settlement negotiations.

Source: ABC News, "Man Left Brain Damaged After Doctor Allegedly Abandons Man's Open-Heart Surgery", Sydney Lupkin, January 13, 2014

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