(CN) – An Iowa man who claims his buttocks and rectum were burned during surgery was wrongfully denied a medical malpractice judgment, the Iowa Court of Appeals ruled.
Herman Verwers underwent prostate cancer surgery in 2004 at Iowa Methodist Medical Center. Doctors implanted radioactive seeds into Verwers’ prostate.
The instrument used to implant the seeds can get as hot as 270 degrees. It was not properly cooled before surgery, and Verwers suffered second- and third-degree burns on his rectum and inner buttocks.
At trial, the court submitted jury instructions only for specific negligence, and Verwers lost the case.
Judge Mahan reversed the decision, ruling that the jury should also have been instructed on Verwers’ claim for general negligence under the concept of res ipsa loquitur (the thing speaks for itself).
That is, Verwers’ injury would be sufficient to show negligence, regardless of which of the two doctors handled the instrument during the surgery.
“Res ipsa loquitur applies in this case because there is no direct evidence as to the precise cause of the injury,” Mahan wrote. “Burn injuries to patients do not occur in the ordinary course of events without negligence.”