Two years ago, Michael Holmes was told by his doctors at the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center in Richmond Virginia that his left carotid artery was blocked and needed to be cleared out. A few months later he underwent the routine vascular surgery, which typically takes around one-hour to complete. But something went terribly wrong. The one-hour surgery turned into a five-hour ordeal, during which the blood flow to his brain was interrupted, resulting in a massive stroke. After filing a malpractice lawsuit against the VA Medical Center at the end of last year, a settlement of $750,000 was announced earlier this month.
After being revived, Holmes allegedly lost the ability to speak for days and could not walk for about a month. Before the operation Holmes was told that he would stay at the VA medical center for 24-hours, but he was not discharged for 60 days. In addition, according to the suit, his doctors discovered that the artery in question was not blocked at all and the surgery was unnecessary. As a result of the stroke, Holmes now has limited use of his arm, he walks with a limp, and has trouble speaking.
“He’s a different man,” said Melissa Holmes, his wife. “He’s not the man I knew before.”
According to the lawsuit, VA doctors told Holmes to stop taking aspirin, which may have helped to prevent the stroke, one week before the surgery. The VA has since changed their policy that now requires patients to take aspirin and anti-platelet medication before, during, and after similar vascular operations. Holmes was originally seeking $2.5 million, but he and his wife decided to settle for $750,000. Holmes told reporters that he does not hold any animosity towards the VA.
“Mr. Holmes got a surgery he did not need, he had a complication of that surgery . . . and he suffered a stroke. It’s a tragic case,” said the attorney who represented Holmes. “This is a healthy man who was robbed of his later years. He’s alive and he’s thinking, but he has severe impairments that he does not need to have.”