A Pennsylvania man who had the wrong testicle removed during surgery has been awarded $870,000 in damages by a jury.
In 2013, 54-year-old Steven Hanes sought help for the chronic pain he was experiencing in his right testicle. He went to Dr. Valley Spencer Long, a urologist in Huntingdon, for a diagnosis. Long suggested Hanes have the testicle removed via surgery, attorney Braden R. Lepisto of Kline & Specter, who represents Hanes, told PennLive.
According to the lawsuit filed by Hanes, Long removed the healthy left testicle and did not operate on the one that was causing him pain. Hanes believed that Long was reckless, as he did not properly identify the testicle meant to be removed.
Long was aware of his mistake. "It appeared that the left testicle and cord may actually have been removed instead of the right one," he wrote in a post-operative report. Hanes said that Long also told him during a surgical follow-up visit that the wrong testicle was removed.
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"The conduct of the doctor during the surgery indicated he had no idea which testicle he was removing," Lepisto said.
"Steve had the right testicle pain for 15 years before he went to see Dr. Long. He wanted to relieve the pain," the lawyer added. "Four years later Steve continues to have the pain. He's had more frequent pain."
Hanes has not had his right testicle removed, though it continues to cause him pain. If the surgery is eventually required, he will have to undergo testosterone replacement therapy for the rest of his life.
Lepisto said his client now has a "debilitating fear" of having his chronic testicle pain treated because of what Long did.
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The jury, consisting of 11 women and one man, deliberating over the medical malpractice case against Long and the hospital sided with Hanes. He will be awarded $500,000 for future pain and suffering, $120,000 for past pain and suffering, and $250,000 in punitive damages against Long for "reckless indifference," according to Delaware Law Weekly.
Lepisto said such a verdict occurring outside of the state's metropolitan areas is rare.
"The verdict shows that even in counties where there are limited options for medical care, appropriate and competent care still is demanded by the community," he said.
An appeal of the verdict is allowed.
Long, 77, is no longer performing surgeries, according to PennLive. He has another pending malpractice suit against him for a patient who died while under his care.