Hospital Ordered to Pay $12.5 Million In Medical Malpractice, Wrongful Death Case; Kingston, Medical Malpractice Weighs In


An out-of-state hospital was ordered earlier this week to pay a total of $12.5 million to the family of a young accountant. In 2008, a jury awarded the family $2.5 million for a wrongful death claim after finding that the hospital was responsible for the patient's death in 2003. After delays in the litigation and procedural process, the family finally as closure; or the best closure they will ever had to this point after the death of their young family member. A jury of six men and six women determined that the young accountant would have made over $10 million in lifetime income and awarded that to the family. Thus, the total award was a whopping $12.5 million. The hospital, respectfully, will appeal.

What actually happened was the account, who had been working at one of the countries' most prestigious account firms, went to the hospital with severe headaches. Upon initial inspection, doctors believed he had a brain tumor and scheduled surgery to remove it four days later. But the night before the surgery the patient's pupils became fixed and dilated-a clear sign of serious brain problems. Nurses and doctors then dispute what happened next, but when the surgery was performed the next morning they learned that it was not a tumor, but in fact an abscess. Thus, it was too late and the patient never regained consciousness.

The crux of the case was that, despite the initial misdiagnosis-which could have won the case right there-the fact that the patient lay from for five hours after his pupils had dilated without being seen by a single doctor, when he STILL could have been saved, was the medical malpractice. The jury agreed.

Cases like this frustrate me why the physicians, on such a clear indication of neurological problems such as fixed and dilated pupils, could STILL not try to do something more. Especially when the patient is already diagnosed with a brain tumor, more tests, another CT scan or MRI should have been conducted. Moreover, I would love to see many cancers require a second opinion; especially something as nebulous yet dangerous as brain tumors.

Another feeling is that the hefty award is worth it for the family. Today there is a maelstrom of debate regarding the tort reform, and lowering or capping medical malpractice damages cases to help minimize the debt. I say forget about it! While I agree this high, particularly due to the patient's age and already powerful job, other hospitals need to see the ramifications of this! They need to know that if you are negligent and cause the death of another person, you will be sued and you will pay for it. The fact that they are now out $12.5 million is a lot of money, and aggregated around the country it accumulates fast.

But this family is completely destroyed; money will not fix their loss. The medical profession has to do their job to the best of their ability, and if they do so they will not have to pay out these large sums of money. It really is not easy for plaintiffs in medical malpractice cases, especially in New York were the Pattern Jury Instructions and even the case law is so deferential to the medical field. So when there is a big case, the plaintiff really did deserve it!

But what do you think? I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment or I also welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at [email protected] . You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com.
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