Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Settlements & Jury Verdicts
Medical malpractice is the third-leading cause of death in the United States – just behind heart disease and cancer. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, there was a medical negligence payout every 43 minutes in 2012, totaling over $3 billion.
What is medical malpractice?
The standard definition of “medical malpractice” is a deviation from the recognized standard of care in the treatment of a patient. Experiencing unwanted outcomes from medical treatment is not necessarily grounds for a successful malpractice claim. Medical malpractice settlements result from the ability to prove that a provider’s errors directly caused injury, damages or death.
Generally speaking, medical malpractice claims may encompass the following types of incidents:
- Childbirth injuries – Fractured bones, brain injuries and cerebral palsy are common birth-related injuries that fall under the umbrella of professional medical negligence. Negligent prenatal care such as the failure to diagnose a medical condition like preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, herpes, or hypoglycemia can be classified as medical malpractice as well. Sometimes health care practitioners fail to anticipate birth complications due to fetal size, miss the signs of fetal distress during labor, use forceps or vacuum extractors improperly, or fail to order a Cesarean section when it’s clearly prudent.
- Medication errors – One of the most common medical errors involves prescribing the wrong type of medication or dosage. At least 1.5 million people are injured every year due to drug errors in hospitals, according to a 2006 study by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Sometimes faulty equipment administers the wrong amount of a drug, the nurse misreads the order, or a doctor writes down the incorrect prescription.
- Anesthesia mistakes – Anesthesia errors are often fatal and may occur when a medical practitioner: fails to investigate a patient’s medical history, provides the wrong pre-operative instructions, gives too much anesthesia, fails to monitor the patient’s vital signs, places the trachea tube improperly, or uses defective equipment.
- Surgery errors – Some hospital negligence settlements result from physicians who mistakenly left surgical tools inside a patient. Other times they may puncture organs, fail to monitor the patient’s vital signs closely, operate on the wrong body part, or fail to administer proper post-operative care — resulting in serious infection.
Medical malpractice settlements
When a hospital or doctor acknowledges that a mistake has been made, a settlement may be negotiated outside of court. For example:
- UC Davis Medical Center paid $9 million to the parents of a girl who suffered permanent brain damage after a traumatic 7-hour vaginal labor, despite the mother’s prior consent that a C-section was acceptable if need be.
- Glen Mark received $10 million from Kings County Hospital in New York when a failed epidural left his wife in a vegetative state in 2010.
- Michael Pou obtained a $2.1 million medical malpractice settlement when the hospital dismissed his wife with asthma, rather than treating her for the blood clot that eventually killed her.
- Piedmont Medical Center paid two settlements totaling $4.5 million due to incorrect intubation procedures and failure to properly monitor patients’ vital signs during surgery. Emma Davis died during a routine pacemaker implant procedure and an unnamed York County woman died of complications from a hernia operation.
Medical malpractice jury awards
Other times, medical negligence cases go to trial and it’s up to a jury to decide. Successful cases include:
- A jury awarded $4 million to Sarah E. Gilbert, who was paralyzed from the chest down when Chippenham Hospital botched her 2004 scoliosis surgery.
- Randy Green won a $2.85 million jury award after an orthopedic surgeon in Myrtle Beach left him a paraplegic. Rather than repairing severed arteries in the plaintiff’s arm following a car crash, the surgeon ordered a CAT scan – at which point, the man went into cardiac arrest.
- A Pennsylvania jury awarded a mother $4 million in a birth injury lawsuit. Despite presenting with a large baby, the surgeon pushed for vaginal delivery that resulted in the infant’s cerebral palsy.
- A Clay County lieutenant was awarded $178 million in damages after a jury determined he was the victim of weight loss surgery malpractice. Fluid leaked from his bowels into his abdomen and proper standards of care were not followed in the hospital. As a result, the 375-pound man suffered a stroke that left him unable to see, speak, feed or talk normally.
Determining compensation in medical malpractice cases
A plaintiff in a medical negligence case may seek compensation for the following damages:
- Past, current and future medical expenses
- Loss of income while being treated for injuries; loss of future income
- Mental pain, suffering and anguish; loss of enjoyment of life; loss of consortium with a spouse
- Legal fees and court costs
- Punitive damages
The amount of compensation given to a plaintiff will depend upon the extent of the injuries, the amount of fault the defendant is found liable for, and whether the judge feels the defendant intentionally acted out of malice. It’s important that the plaintiff’s legal counsel demonstrate the appropriate standard of care in that situation, as well as documentation to verify that injuries occurred due to medical negligence.
Leading medical malpractice attorneys
Eisbrouch Marsh have decades of significant experience successfully handling medical negligence lawsuits. The medical malpractice attorneys understand the pain and suffering that medical mistakes can cause a family and their loved ones. They will cover the litigation and financial side of the issue, while you focus on healing physically and emotionally. To learn more about your legal options and right to pursue a malpractice settlement or jury award, call our law offices for a free and confidential case evaluation.
- Forbes – 10 Things You Want To Know About Medical Malpractice http://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2013/05/16/10-things-you-want-to-know-about-medical-malpractice/
- The National Academies - Medication Errors Injure 1.5 Million People and Cost Billions of Dollars Annually http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=11623
- Fox 40 – Hospital Settles Medical Malpractice Lawsuit for $9 Million http://fox40.com/2013/09/27/uc-hospital-settles-medical-malpractice-lawsuit-for-9-million/