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Surgical Error Leaves Iowa Woman Paralyzed, Unable To Speak

A woman is suing the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics for $15 million after a mistake made during surgery to remove a non-cancerous tumor left her paralyzed on the right side, incontinent and unable to speak or swallow. Joyce Bohren sought treatment at UI Hospital in 2014 for hearing loss. An examination revealed that she had two non-cancerous tumors on her brain, one of which was responsible for causing the hearing loss.

During the surgery, surgeons cut an artery, which caused Bohren to suffer a stroke. Since her release from the hospital, Ms. Bohren spent a year being treated in nursing homes. She has since regained some function, but she still requires 24 hour care and her claim states that she will likely require such care for the rest of her life.

According to the claim, Ms. Bohren did not give proper informed consent prior to her surgical procedure. While attempting to remove the benign tumor, surgeons cut the middle cerebral artery, which supplies blood to the brain. This caused her to suffer a massive stroke, which left her unable to swallow, speak, control her bladder or bowel function, and completely unable to move the right side of her body. Following the procedure, she spent one month in an acute rehabilitation facility and the following nine months in a variety of nursing homes. Despite the amount of therapy she has received, Bohren’s legal team claims that she still is only able to speak a few words when prompted and can not complete the basic life skills necessary to live without 24-hour assistance. The claim identifies Dr. Matthew A. Howard, III, the chief of the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Iowa Hospital as the doctor responsible for performing the surgery.

While a patient, such as Ms. Bohren, may discover a surgical mistake immediately after the procedure, sometimes this does not happen until a significant amount of time has passed. For example, a person may experience pain months or even years after a procedure and discover the pain is due to an infection brought about by a surgical instrument left inside the body. In recognition of this reality, the statue of limitations for bringing a claim of medical malpractice in all jurisdictions has carved out exceptions for cases where a patient may not have discovered harm or an injury for a significant period of time until after it occurred. Therefore, even if a surgical error happened several years ago, it may still be possible for the victim to seek compensation.

The best course of action if you suspect that you or someone you love has been the victim of a surgical mistake is to seek medical care as well as the advice of an experienced medical malpractice attorney. Contact us online or by calling (800) 529-6162.

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian
Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm’s litigation practice.  Briggs’ legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 

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