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The family of a 36-year-old woman who died less than two days after undergoing outpatient cosmetic surgery recently received an award of $1.95 million when a court in Virginia Beach determined that the surgeon and his clinic staff did not provide adequate follow-up care to the woman.

According to a report in the August 27, 2010, Virginian-Pilot, the mother of four underwent a breast lift and augmentation, liposuction and other routine plastic surgery procedures on July 30, 2008. She died 40 hours later at home when the staff at Galumbeck Plastic Surgery failed to diagnose, treat or ensure hospital treatment for an adverse reaction or postsurgery infection that made it difficult for the woman to breath and left her feverish, dizzy and unable to concentrate.

The woman lost her life when she experienced aspiration pneumonia, a condition in which regurgitated stomach contents flow into the lungs instead of leaving the body.

The wrongful death damage award represents the maximum allowable under caps the state of Virginia (VA) imposes on medical or surgical malpractice verdicts. I congratulate my colleague in malpractice law, Kenneth B. Wills, who is very tough and worked with the victim’s family to secure the award.

Every surgery carries risks, and I do believe that surgeons, nurses and technicians almost always do everything they can to reduce those risks and keep patients safe. But when surgical team members make mistakes or miss complications, patients too often lose their lives. When the worst happens, the responsible parties must be held accountable.


About the Editors: The Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, whose attorneys work out of offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, Eastern Shore Virginia Injury Attorneys Blog and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.

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