Jury Awards $2 Million for Botched Back Surgery

A man whose doctor accidentally cut into an artery during surgery to repair a herniated disk and didn’t notice his mistake more than a day later, won a $2 million jury award.

Case Details

Matt McCann went into a New Mexico hospital in 2008 to remove a herniated disk and for spinal decompression on both sides. After surgery, his doctor closed him up and sent him into recovery without noticing anything wrong.

Thirty-six hours later, he suffered cardiac arrest.

According to his lawsuit for medical malpractice, it wasn’t until doctors opened him up again that they realized his surgeon, Dr. Hal Hankinson, had accidentally cut into his iliac artery and a large vein that carries blood to the heart. As a result, he needed three more surgeries but still has permanent damage to nerves controlling his bladder and bowels and brain damage.

The Jury’s Decision

McCann sued Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center for medical malpractice and asked for damages, or compensation, both for his injury-related expenses as well as punitive damages to punish the hospital for its wrongdoing. McCann, who used to work at art galleries and represented artists, is no longer is able to work.

McCann’s attorney also asked the jury to punish the hospital for not noticing the doctor’s mistake — behavior the lawyers argued was a corporate disregard for patient safety.

The jury awarded McCann $2 million to compensate for his damages, but did not agree the hospital should be punished.

Even though they are no longer married, the jury also gave McCann’s ex-wife Stephanie $50,000 based on her claim that the trauma destroyed the couple’s marriage.

His lawyer called the verdict “significant” and said it would help “try to get Matt put back together again”.

By: Sylvia Hsieh


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