The U.S. government recently announced a settlement for $850,000 over claims that a routine prostate surgery at an government hospital left the plaintiff blind, impotent and incontinent. The surgery took roughly three times the usual duration of two and a half hours and the plaintiff was never informed that if it took longer than five hours, blindness may result.
You go in for routine prostate surgery and, as a result, you end up blind. What a horror story! Sadly, it’s also the truth for Robert Carl. The U.S. government just settled Mr. and Mrs. Carl’s medical malpractice suit for $850,000. The settlement announcement was made in federal court in Honolulu after prostate surgery caused plaintiff’s blindness.
Mr. Carl was diagnosed with prostate cancer in April of 2010 and scheduled for surgery in June of that same year. During all of the pre-operative consultations, Mr. Carl’s doctor never once mentioned that if the robot-assisted surgery took over five hours it could cause blindness. Mr. Carl’s surgery almost seven hours leaving him blind as well as incontinent and impotent.
The Carls filed suit in 2013, suing the government for the negligent decisions made by the hospital staff at Tripler Army Medical Center. The suit claimed that the robot-assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy was mishandled by the hospital. The claim states that, a “surgeon with… more expertise can perform the same robotic surgery and faster than one with less experience.” Typically, the more proficient doctor can perform the procedure in approximately two and a half hours.
The government denied all claims of negligence and doesn’t admit any wrongdoing by settling the Carl’s claim. It’s a common practice to keep medical malpractice settlements confidential, but there is an exception when the suit involves a government institution.
Judging from available information, one concludes that the hospital allowed a less proficient doctor to perform a routine surgery, thus injuring the plaintiff. There was no mention in available information of complications during surgery that would have led to the procedure taking roughly three times as long as usual.
The Carls face a difficult road and, while the $850k will help smooth it somewhat, nothing will restore Mr. Carl to his former self.