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Jury Orders Kelsey-Seybold to Pay $1.9 Million for Secret Surgeon

Photo of Randy Sorrels

On Friday, January 20, 2012, a Harris County jury ordered Kelsey-Seybold Medical Clinic, PLLC and its employee, Jim Patrick Benge, MD, to pay $1.9 million for permanently injuring Lauren Williams and for her past and future damages, including a lifetime of colostomy care and medications, made necessary by a surgical error. In August 2008, Ms. Williams went in for a hysterectomy understanding Dr. Benge would be her surgeon. After she went under anesthesia, a resident came in and performed at least 50% of the surgery without the patient's knowledge. This was the first time the resident had performed the procedure. "The jury rejected Kelsey-Seybold's position that an unknown resident can perform surgery on a patient without full disclosure to the patient," said Williams' attorney Randall O. Sorrels.

During that August 2008 surgery, two of Ms. Williams' organs, including her bowel were perforated. The injuries were not discovered until three days later at which point Ms. Williams was septic and her injuries were irreversible. Ms. Williams spent three weeks in a coma as a result, and thereafter spent months re-learning to walk, talk and care for herself. Ms. Williams now lives with a permanent colostomy and testimony was presented that she will be an intestinal cripple as she grows older due to the dense internal adhesions resulting for the gastrointestinal damage. She has undergone five major surgeries following the August 26, 2008 procedure.

Dr. Benge, his colleague Dr. Thornton, also a co-defendant who was not found liable for her role in Ms. Williams' post-operative care, and the experts for Kelsey-Seybold offered testimony that a patient does not have the right to know when a resident would be operating on them or cutting inside their bodies. By virtue of this medical malpractice verdict, a Harris County jury has rejected this as the standard of care. "When a doctor agrees to perform surgery on a patient, it should be that surgeon who operates, unless the patient agrees otherwise," said Williams' counsel Chelsie King Garza.

If you or someone you know has been seriously or permanently injured during surgery, contact the attorneys at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend by calling 713-222-7211.

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