Virginia Beach Med Mal: Plastic Surgeon Ordered to Pay $1.95M Over Patient Death

09/03/2010 // West Palm Beach, FL, US // Sandra Quinlan // Sandra Quinlan

Virginia Beach, VA—The family of a woman who died less than two days after undergoing plastic surgery was awarded a $1.95 million verdict Thursday, August 2, 2010. According to the Virginian-Pilot, the victim died of aspiration pneumonia within a mere 40 hours of undergoing her “mommy makeover” procedure.

While a Circuit Court jury announced the ruling on Thursday, Judge Edward W. Hanson Jr. held off entering the ruling as a means of allowing both sides to file motions. A defense attorney in the case alleged a proposal to set aside the verdict would be among those motions.

Reports indicated 36-year-old Maritess Lopez had a desire to undergo cosmetic surgery to improve her look after having four children.

A lawyer representing Lopez’s family in the medical malpractice lawsuit stated she got “a breast lift and augmentation, liposuction, and a tummy tuck” on July 30, 2008.

The family contended that although Lopez was suffering from breathing issues after her operation, Dr. Matthew Galumbeck and staff members let her leave the surgical center an hour later.

The family’s medical malpractice lawyer claimed she then began to experience other symptoms, which included “dizziness, fever, and problems moving and concentrating.”

Carmelita Hale, Lopez’s sister, reportedly called Dr. Galumbeck’s office and spoke with a nurse about Lopez’s symptoms. However, the surgical center allegedly made no attempt to follow up on her seemingly worsening condition.

On that same evening, Lopez’s daughter reportedly found her unresponsive. An autopsy was conducted on the mother of four, which indicated aspiration pneumonia caused her death. Reports stated the aspiration pneumonia happened when the “contents of her stomach went up her esophagus and down her trachea into her lungs.”

The attorney representing Dr. Galumbeck contended he looked through Lopez’s medical records after the procedure and asked how she was feeling. Given that she allegedly appeared to be in good health, he then discharged her from the surgical center.

“We can keep patients overnight if we need to and if they’re sick we send them to the hospital, “ said Dr. Galumbeck. His attorney also alleged the Virginia Beach plastic surgeon did not deviate from the standard of care.

Nonetheless, the family’s lawyer maintained, “What matters in this case is this lady had plastic surgery, she was ignored and she died.”

The family was awarded the maximum compensation allowable by law.

Legal News Reporter: Sandra Quinlan– Legal News for Virginia Medical Malpractice Lawyers.

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