A wrongful death lawsuit following a plastic surgery death won’t be retried after the Georgia Supreme Court ruled the trial court was right in excluding certain evidence helpful to the plaintiff. The case of Robles v. Yugueros resulted in a verdict favorable to the defense. The plaintiff (the deceased patient’s widowed husband) argued that was largely because the trial court excluded testimony that bolstered his claim. Although the appeals court agreed with him, the state supreme court did not.
The facts giving rise to this case begin in June 2009 when the defendant performed a series of plastic surgery procedures on the patient, including liposuction, buttock augmentation, and abdominoplasty surgery. Following these procedures, the patient stayed in the hospital overnight and was discharged on the following day. Two days later, she was brought into the emergency room, complaining of severe nausea, abdominal pain, and vomiting. A physician prescribed her anti-nausea medicine and painkillers and instructed her to come back if her symptoms worsened.
Meanwhile, a radiologist examining the patient’s x-ray off-site noted the possibility of a condition known as “free intreperitoneal air” in the patient’s abdomen. This could be normal, but it could also be a sign of something far more serious. He recommended a CT scan and put this information in the patient’s electronic medical record, which was faxed to the hospital. However, by that time, the patient had already been discharged. Three hours later, she was still in extreme pain and, at the urging of the defendant surgeon, returned to the hospital. She was given more pain medication but no CT scan. It wasn’t until two days later that her surgeon ordered an abdominal x-ray that showed evidence of abdominal free air. Three hours later, she underwent surgery, during which the surgeon discovered her stomach had basically been torn open. The tissue was 95 percent dead. She died hours later.