Man Sues After Thyroid Removal Turns Out To Be Unnecessary
The U.S. government is facing a lawsuit filed by a veteran who had his thyroid removed unnecessarily. After the procedure, the man was told that no cancer was found on his thyroid. He waited three years to file a lawsuit alleging medical malpractice against the U.S. naval hospital in Guam.
The ensuing lawsuit accused doctors at the naval hospital of failing to establish a correct diagnosis prior to removing the thyroid. He is seeking $1.5 million in compensatory damages. Below, we’ll take a look at the lawsuit.
This is medical malpractice
There are very few times when a medical malpractice lawsuit is as cut and dried as this one is. But if a doctor performs a surgery that turns out to be unnecessary, you have automatic medical negligence. You still need to establish that injuries resulted from this medical negligence. The plaintiff will need to be on a thyroid supplement for the rest of his life. He had to endure the pain and recovery of a major surgery and then later find out that the surgery was completely unnecessary because his doctors failed to confirm their diagnosis prior to the surgery. So, you have a perfect medical malpractice allegation against these doctors.
However, having your thyroid removed isn’t associated with major losses in your quality of life. Your body no longer produces the thyroid enzyme, so you will need to take supplements for the rest of your life. Additionally, the recovery time for thyroid removal is about two weeks tops and most people can return to their normal lives after their incision has healed. There are few complications with the total removal of the thyroid gland because it only has one job: to produce the thyroid enzyme. You take a pill, you have enough enzymes.
So, while the plaintiff may be able to establish that medical negligence occurred, his damages will be reduced by a lack of pain and suffering or permanent disability resulting from the surgery. He can lead a normal life and it is unlikely to greatly affect his quality of life. That means he will be compensated for enduring a surgery that was unnecessary and the expense incurred from having to take thyroid medication for the rest of his life. He should be able to return to work and he may have to take calcium supplements to keep his calcium levels up. But otherwise, his quality of life will be roughly the same as it was before the mistake.
Nonetheless, this is exactly the sort of case the doctor does not want to see before a jury. Because the mistake was so open and obvious, the jury will expect the doctor should have confirmed the diagnosis prior to removing the thyroid. The jury will keep that in mind when suggesting an award figure.
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