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$21M awarded after woman died after wrong operation

Oralandar Brand-Williams

Detroit — The family of an 81-year-old Belleville woman who died after getting unnecessary brain surgery has been awarded $21 million, her attorney says.

Lawyer Geoffrey Fieger said Thursday he's also asking Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy to launch a criminal investigation into the matter.

The patient, Bimla Nayyar, died two months after the January 2012 brain surgery. Nayyar was in Oakwood's Dearborn hospital to get a procedure to "pop" her jaw bone back into place. Instead, she is dead because she received the "wrong surgery," Fieger said Thursday.

"This is beyond horrific," said Fieger, whose offices are in Southfield.

The verdict was announced Wednesday in Wayne County Circuit Court. Fieger said it was the largest verdict this year in the state.

Nayyar was seeking a procedure from relief from TMJ, or temporomandibular joint disorders, a common problem. After the incorrect surgery, Fieger said, she was on life support and died two months later.

"She suffered horribly," Fieger said.

A spokeswoman for Oakwood Hospital declined Thursday to comment on details in the case raised by Fieger, but released a statement from Oakwood Healthcare: "We're very concerned about how the details of this case have been portrayed. This matter will be appealed. However, because this is an active legal case, we cannot comment any further."

Her family took the remains of Nayyar, who was Hindu, back to India and spread her ashes over the River Ganges.

A woman who is related to Nayyar through marriage said Thursday she is happy the Nayyar family prevailed in court.

"(The hospital) made a mistake," said Subesh Kundal of Rochester. "They said she was old and sick but it doesn't matter. The operation made her sicker."

Fieger said the mix-up occurred as a result of hospital staff putting Nayyar's name on the wrong X-ray form. After Nayyar was taken into the operating room, five holes were drilled into her brain and the right side of her skull was removed before the medical staff realized its mistake, Fieger said.

"They poked around in her brain before realizing they had the wrong patient," he added.

The woman's family was not told about the mistake, Fieger said, and neither was the state of Michigan.

"After (Oakwood) knew, they let her die," he said. "They never admitted it. They never wrote in her chart they had the wrong patient."

Nayyar's family's suspicions were raised when her X-rays were different than when she went into the hospital.

Fieger said he feels a crime was committed, claiming Nayyar's medical records were falsified.

Fieger said the hospital admitted to its mistake two years later, but "they never apologized to the family."

Fieger said there are likely "two victims" in the case. He said the other patient probably also died because he or she did not get the brain surgery needed.

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