Jury Awards Michigan Woman $1.3 Million in Medical Malpractice Case

On February 18, Kathy Pagan, 43, of Jackson, Michigan, was awarded $1.3 million in a medical malpractice case arising from complications from her 2009 “tummy tuck” surgery.

The jury found that Dr. Rouchdi Rifai, by failing to meet a standard of care, had caused Pagan’s injuries and physical and economic losses, Michigan news site Mlive.com reports.

The tummy tuck surgery (abdominoplasty) took place on June 4, 2009 at Rifai’s office in Jackson. According to Pagan’s legal complaint, filed in 2011, her problems began immediately after the surgery, with dark-colored drainage, clots, and painful burning sensations.  She continued to report such issues in the following weeks. Rifai cleaned the wound area without anesthesia, and prescribed ointment and pain medication, but did not refer Pagan to a wound care specialist despite her repeated requests. About eight weeks after the surgery Pagan went to the Allegiance Health’s emergency room and Allegiance’s wound care clinic diagnosed a staph infection. She was hospitalized for six days, Mlive reports. Pagan and her attorneys say that problems developed and persisted because she did not receive timely diagnosis and treatment from Rifai.

Pagan operated a home care and medical staffing business at the time of the surgery, and she maintained a regular workout schedule that included jogging at least two miles a day. Her failing health resulted in the loss of her business, and she now struggles with ordinary daily living. The jury awarded Pagan $500,000 for pain, suffering, scarring and disfigurement, and associated mental or emotional distress, and $382,000 in loss of income, Mlive reports. Pagan says that while the money will not restore her health, it will help provide financial stability for her and her family.

Mlive.com reports that Rifai plans to appeal the verdict.

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