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Death from bowel obstruction leads to $6 million jury award

A jury in Georgia recently cleared an emergency room doctor from a case stemming from a woman's fatal heart attack because of a bowel obstruction. While this might seem disheartening, there is more to the story. The jury only needed less than three hours to find that the other doctor named in the case was liable for the woman's untimely death.

The woman who died was taking painkillers after a 2014 knee surgery. This led the 72-year-old woman to suffer from a bowel obstruction. She visited an emergency room where she saw the doctor who was cleared in the case. Imaging at that time didn't show any obstruction.

The day after the woman was seen in the ER, she returned to the hospital and was admitted into Athens Regional. At that time, the doctor who was held liable for her death ordered that she have an enema and take oral laxatives. The decedent's case hinged on the fact that this conservative treatment wasn't appropriate.

The argument that was made was that she should have had a gastronasal tube instead of oral medications. In fact, the doctor admitted that her had her inpatient so that he could prevent her from taking oral medications.

Ultimately, the woman began to vomit, which led to her death when she aspirated. This type of death is considered a rare event for someone with a bowel blockage, but the jury still found that the liable doctor needed to pay $500,000 to her estate for her pain and suffering and expenses. The award also included $5.5 million for the full value of the woman's life.

Losing a loved one is a horrible experience. If you lose a loved one because of medical negligence, you might opt to seek compensation for the tragic death.

Source: Courtroom View Network, "$6M Verdict Slaps 1 Doctor, While Another Doc Is Cleared in Trial Over Deadly Bowel Obstruction," Arlin Crisco, Oct. 03, 2017

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