A Tampa jury last week delivered a hefty financial award to a woman who had her hands and feet amputated due to complications following surgery to remove a benign ovarian cyst. According to reporting in the Tampa Bay Times, Florida resident Lisa-Maria Carter was given an award in excess of $109 million in her lawsuit against the University of South Florida (USF), which performed the surgery through their medical school at Tampa General Hospital.
An employee of the U.S. military as a intelligence analyst, Carter sought treatment for the benign ovarian cyst as required medical clearance before being dispatched to Iraq. The surgery was performed at Tampa General Hospital in late 2010.
According to the lawsuit, the procedure was performed by Larry Glazerman, MD, the director of minimally gynecologic surgery with USF at the time. Carter alleges Glazerman accidentally cut into her small intestine during the surgery. The wound was sealed, but the damage wasn’t adequately addressed.
During the recovery process, Carter’s blood pressure cratered, and she showed signs of internal bleeding. When another surgeon reopened Carter to examine the surgical site, the small intestine was severely damaged, and flesh-eating bacteria had spread through lower bowel area, according to court records.
In addition to the series of follow-up surgeries required to address the damaged tissue, Carter was given medications to boost her blood pressure that the suit alleges led blood to flow away from her hands and feet. The result was gangrene in her appendages, followed by amputation.
Medical treatment to address issues related to the surgical complications is ongoing, and Carter says she’s contracted post-traumatic stress disorder due the experience.
“It’s very hard emotionally,” Carter told the Tampa Bay Times. “I try to keep my head up and not worry about it.”
The jury ruled in Carter’s favor in her third attempt at bringing the matter into court. Tampa General Hospital was previously deemed immune from a lawsuit because of paperwork Carter signed in advance of the procedure freeing the healthcare facility from liability.
Because Florida has a sovereign immunity law in place, the award in cases like this is automatically capped at $100,000. Carter needs to petition the state legislature in order to receive any amount in excess of that sum, a route her lawyer says he’ll pursue.
“They should know who Lisa-Maria Carter is and how she’s served her country all these years,” Dandar said, according to the Tampa Bay Times. “They could speak to the powers that be at USF and say, ‘Let’s get it done.’”
In a statement, USF said they are exploring options to appeal the court decision.
Filed Under: Industry regulations