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$2M awarded to Ark. man who had surgery on wrong side of brain

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. » The family of an Arkansas man left in an impaired state after an operation on the wrong side of his brain has been awarded $2 million by the state’s claims commission.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports the commission announced Tuesday that it found doctors and administrators at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences were negligent in the 2004 surgery of Cody Metheny. Metheny, who was 15 at the time, had an operation at Arkansas Children’s Hospital to reduce the number of seizures he was experiencing.

According to the commission, UAMS staff members "fraudulently concealed the facts of the surgery" from Metheny’s family, which was unaware of damage done to their son until an unrelated examination about 18 months after the surgery. The $2 million award is equal to the amount the family paid out of pocket to a Virginia facility to help their son for two years after the surgery.

The Metheny family attorney, Phillip Duncan, said the decision was "vindicating" for the family.

UAMS spokeswoman Leslie Taylor said staff members disagree with the decision, saying UAMS and the children’s hospital are two separate legal entities. Taylor said that UAMS staff members are evaluating legal options, but they had not appealed the commission’s decision as of Tuesday afternoon.

The $2 million claim will have to be approved by a legislative subcommittee, which can reverser the commission’s decision or, increase or decrease the amount of money the family has been awarded.

According to commission findings, Dr. Badih Adada realized several hours into the surgery that he had cut into and removed the wrong portion of the brain. Commission findings say the surgeon, who was a professor at UAMS and head of the pediatric surgery unit at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, went on to operate on the other side of the brain. Adada settled with the family for $1 million

Five years ago, a Pulaski County Circuit Court jury said Children’s Hospital should pay the family $20 million in the case before a judge reduced the amount to $11 million.

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