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Sleep apnea can be dangerous, especially in small children, and surgery is sometimes an effective way to fix the problem. But for Pennsylvania's 6-year-old Keonte Graham the surgery didn't really fix his problems.
Graham was just 11 months old when he was diagnosed with sleep apnea. Dr. Andrew Shapiro recommended surgery to correct the problem and Graham's parents agreed.
The road to recovery was a parent's worst nightmare.
Graham had breathing problems following surgery and stayed in the recovery room for five hours after the procedure finished according to PennLive.com.
But then he was placed in a regular room rather than in intensive care. Shapiro didn't tell the staff to continue to monitor Graham's blood oxygen levels.
During the night, Graham was found not breathing and unresponsive. MRI's from after the event show a visible brain injury. A jury found that Shapiro was guilty of medical malpractice and awarded Graham $1.1 Million at trial.
To prove medical malpractice, there has to be evidence that a doctor acted negligently or recklessly in caring for a patient.
Typically in negligence cases the plaintiff must prove that the defendant had a duty to the injured person. But doctors have an automatic duty to meet the standard of care in their profession so that element is implicit in medical malpractice suits.
Breach of duty is generally judged by how a reasonable person would have acted in the situation. In medical malpractice, proving substandard care relies on the standard of care for a doctor in the same practice.
If the doctor did not meet the standard of care and that failure caused harm, there is medical malpractice.
To find Shapiro guilty of medical malpractice the jury must have been satisfied that a doctor in Shapiro's practice should have called for continued supervision.
To win a medical malpractice suit, a personal injury attorney will prove that the doctor's action or inaction caused the injury.
Graham's attorney, Terry Hyman, established for the jury that without Shapiro's negligence, Graham would not have suffered the brain injury. In legal circles, that's called the proximate cause or "but for" causation.
The last piece of a medical malpractice suit, like any negligence suit, is proving damages. Graham now suffers from developmental delays as a result of the brain injury, according to PennLive.com. That was likely the jury's evidence of damages.
The money awarded for the botched sleep apnea surgery will help Keonte Graham cover additional expenses related to his development delays as he gets older. The money will be placed in trust for his personal needs, according to a statement by Hyman.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.