According to statistics, the eighth most common surgery in the U.S. is gallbladder removal. So it's unlikely that a 65-year-old veteran of the Viet Nam war was overly worried when he entered a Veterans Affairs medical center for the common procedure.
Two weeks after he walked in to the hospital, however, William Lovell was dead. His estate recently settled a medical malpractice lawsuit against the VA for just over $790,000.
The former helicopter pilot had been shot down three times during the war and lived to tell the tale. But he was unable to survive substandard medical care.
In late 2011, the veteran went to a Virginia VA center with symptoms of gallbladder inflammation. He returned in early 2012 to have the gallbladder surgically removed.
However, doctors there changed their minds when complications arose, deciding to remove only a portion of the gallbladder. Two days after being discharged, he went to a nearby community hospital where he was treated and sent home. Two more days went by and he was back at the VA.
This time, though, he was transported to Roanoke Memorial Hospital for emergency surgery.
"Ten days later he was dead," a recent article on his tragic case stated simply.
Fast forward to the medical malpractice trial in which an expert witness said VA physicians violated standard care when they cut into the gallbladder before identifying "surrounding structures."
The U.S. District Judge agreed and ordered the U.S. to pay the amount requested by the vet's estate.
“It’s vital our veterans receive quality healthcare considering the sacrifices they made for our country,” the estate's medical malpractice attorney said afterwards.
We can help you and your loved ones fight for justice, too. Contact the Law Office of Jeffrey C. Anderson for more information.