A Henrico County, Virginia jury has awarded a Richmond woman $350,000 in damages after an operation almost four years ago left her seriously injured. The defendant, Dr. Gregg A. Valenzuela, had removed intestinal polyps in September 2004 from then 66-year-old Margaret C. Dennis, leading to severe bleeding.
The jury found that Dr. Valenzuela (a gastroenterologist) failed to obtain informed consent from Ms. Dennis, who believed she was simply undergoing an examination, according the patient’s lawyer. Evidence was presented at trial revealed that Ms. Dennis almost bled to death and required hospitalization for 30 days after the procedure.
Interestingly, Dr. Valenzuela was reprimanded by the Virginia Board of Medicine in Nov. 2007 in connection with two operations in 2004 involving placement of pain-relief pumps set to excessive dosage levels. One patient died from “acute hydromorphone poisoning,” according to an autopsy. The other patient went into respiratory arrest but recovered in the intensive care unit. It is unknown whether the jury was informed of this information in connection with Ms. Dennis’ claim.
My take: There are no guarantees in life but you better make sure to fully investigate your doctor before agreeing to undergo significant procedures and surgeries.