New York City has paid out $134 million this past fiscal year for medical malpractice lawsuits coming out of its eleven public hospitals. This amount is a result of payouts in 270 cases completed during the fiscal year. Two examples of these cases were for (1) negligence in the care of a pregnant woman during the birth of her child and (2) failure to diagnosis a brain aneurysm.
In 2008, Deidre Thompson went to the hospital after she started to have contractions. Once there she saw the doctor at about 9:20 a.m. It was determined that the baby was not moving towards the birth canal so they tried to induce labor through the use of drugs to increase contractions. After this Thompson did not see a doctor for over three hours. For the next seven hours after about 3:00 p.m. the heart rate of the baby dropped to 90 beats per minute from 120 beats per minute.
The doctors chose to keep Thompson pushing however, rather than deciding to perform a C-section. Hospital personnel pushed on her stomach to attempt to get the baby through. Then the baby’s heart rate increased to a dangerous level. When the baby was finally born, his heart rate was over 200 beats per minute and was not breathing on his own. Additionally he was having seizures. When a CT scan was later taken of his brain it showed bleeding and a skull fracture. The baby is now permanently disabled and has trouble speaking and walking. The award in this case was $5.3 million.
Another case involved a woman in queens, Magdalena Villalba-Carrillo, who was raced to the emergency room for a severe headache. She was released three days later. Nine days after she was released she suffered from a brain hemorrhage. She had emergency surgery and has been in a vegetative state since. Since the doctors failed to realize what was happening when she was first admitted to the emergency room a $4.9 million settlement was reached to help pay for medical bills.
Payments by New York City for medical malpractice cases reached their peak in 2003 at $193 million and have declined since then. The total amount the city pays for medical malpractice awards and settlements remains high however. Nevertheless, patients and families should be compensated for the errors made by physicians resulting in injury.
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