Medical Malpractice – Recent Recoveries

36-year-old security guard was paralyzed because a spinal epidural abscess was not timely diagnosed. Though fairly rare, the classic symptoms of this condition were clear when he first went to the emergency room. He was nevertheless sent home with a diagnosis of back pain. When his pain worsened he went to a different emergency room when an MRI was ordered at a third facility. Unfortunately the MRI report which was faxed to the ER doctor was lost and which was acknowledged only when the family called for the results. A second report was faxed to the hospital but no nurse bothered to read the report or even show it to a doctor. When the plaintiff’s condition worsened he went to the hospital but the staff could not find the MRI report, his chart or a doctor to examine him. The plaintiff went to the ER three times but no treatment was provided. About 30 hours later the spinal epidural abscess had spread to the extent that plaintiff became a paraplegic. A few hours later he went into a coma. After enduring a coma for two days he ultimately became a quadriplegic. He remained on a ventilator for four months and was hospitalized for 9 months. He requires significant home care and will not ever be able to function independently. This case was mediated and eventually settled for $1,900,000.00. – PJ.

52 year old male worked at a bakery. His left leg had been red, swollen and warm for four days. He went to the emergency room twice and was diagnosed as having early cellulitis. He saw his family doctor and was then admitted to the hospital. Sores developed on his leg for which he was given an antibiotic, support stockings, told to elevate his leg, use whirlpools at the hospital and given topical treatment on the sores. During one whirlpool session the plaintiff blacked out. Numerous tests were done to determine the cause for his loss of consciousness. At no time was a venogram or a Doppler ultrasound or any other proper work-up for his leg problems considered or even performed. The failure to obtain a venogram or a Doppler ultrasound to rule out blood clots as the possible cause of the left leg problem was argued to be below the standard of care. Neither Heparin, a blood thinner, or Coumadin, an oral blood thinner, were prescribed. While these medications would not have destroyed the clots that were already present, they would have prevented new clots from forming. It was determined that a pulmonary embolism had most likely occurred when he blacked out which caused a clot in his leg to break loose. The client must now take Coumadin and pain medications the rest of his life, wear support stockings, get his blood checked every two weeks and follow a special diet. This case was settled just prior to trial for $750,000.00. – SPC.

A young married clients tragically lost their first born shortly after delivery at the hospital.  The case involved significant missed opportunities to deliver the child through a C-section.  Several retained expert witnesses were able to establish deviations from the standards of applicable care based on the information they had at the time.  The case was resolved in federal court after litigation, resulting in a settlement of $700,000.

24-year-old pregnant factory worker delivered a baby C-section at an Indiana hospital. After birth of the child, she felt fatigued and was diagnosed as having post-partum problems and iron deficiency. A chiropractor took x-rays which showed a foreign object, identified by him as a belt buckle. CT scan finally revealed the presence of a surgical sponge (38cm) wrongly left in the patient from surgery. A bowel resection was required. Settlement was for $40,000 as to the chiropractor for late diagnosis (his policy limit) and $250,000 from the doctor/hospital. – TS.

Surgery to correct acute laryngitis botched when a critical nerve was damaged. During surgery the defendant physician injured the plaintiff’s laryngeal nerve leaving her permanently injured with difficulties breathing, speaking and swallowing and occasionally with greater physical complications should she get ill. Plaintiff suffered lost wages, medical expenses, physical and emotional trauma. A $253,500 settlement was obtained for her. – MS.

Plaintiff complaining of severe chest pains sent home from emergency room without cardiac tests and later dies. Hospital sent the plaintiff home without administering any cardiac tests even though plaintiff had a known history of cardiac problems to this hospital. Additionally, the hospital did not contact the plaintiff’s primary care physician. After being sent home, plaintiff died of a heart attack. $475,000 was secured for this medical malpractice victim. – EC.

60 year old Vietnam veteran dies after complications went untreated from a ruptured spleen at the VA Hospital in Marion, Illinois. The veteran was admitted to Marion VA Hospital for observation after he fell at his home while chasing his dog. His complaints of severe abdominal pain went unchecked until emergency surgery the next morning revealed the untreated ruptured spleen. He is survived by his wife and four adult children. Plaintiff was unemployed and suffered from severe PTSD from Vietnam and other health problems. This particular doctor began practicing at the VA after surrendering his Massachusetts medical license. A settlement was reached with his wife and was paid by the United States of America.

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