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Surgical errors during fatal heart surgery lead to lawsuit

The family of a 77-year-old man who passed away in 2011 due to complications of a heart surgery are now suing the doctor they say is responsible for his death. As Delaware residents are no doubt aware, surgical errors leading to death are actionable under civil law, in this case in the form of negligence and wrongful death suits filed against the doctor and the health care facility that employed him. It has since been revealed that a subsequent inquest into the death resulted in the doctor's termination from employment. 

According to the suit, the surgery happened in August 2011. During the procedure, the patient was bleeding considerably, and he passed away shortly after the completion of the surgery. An inquest launched in 2013 revealed the doctor left the man on a bypass lung machine longer than he should have, and also attempted to harvest an artery when he should have harvested a vein. The inquest revealed this death was one of three that could be attributed to the doctor. 

The doctor voluntarily surrendered his license in 2014. The family was unaware that disciplinary action had been taken against the doctor until they were contacted by a newspaper running a story on malpractice. The family now seeks damages of an undisclosed amount. 

Surgical errors leading to death are almost always cause for an investigation into the cause. Even if no disciplinary action is taken internally against a doctor or doctors, Delaware residents may still be able to file malpractice or negligence suits in civil court. While a financial award for damages will not bring back a lost family member, it can help to mitigate final arrangements and provide a sense of justice to the family. 

Source:, "Family sues Meriter over death after surgery by doctor who was fired", David Wahlberg, Aug. 16, 2016

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