Rising medical malpractice case payouts
It is really surprising how numbers drastically changed just in two years time. We are talking about figures; dollars, medical malpractice case payouts or compensations in the recent year 2014. Diederich Healthcare reported that there is 4.7% increase in payout total from 2012 to the next year 2013. Imagine how much more it has increased this year!
Along with the rising figures are 7 cases that received some of the biggest medical malpractice case payouts in US for the past year.
7 highest paid medical malpractice cases in 2014
$1.3 Million – Jackson, Michigan
Tummy-tuck causes complications
On June 4, 2009 Katie underwent an elective surgery abdominoplasty or commonly called a tummy-tuck which also included liposuction of the abdominal flap. The procedure was done by Dr. Rouchdi Rifai who currently continues to work as a surgeon through Birmingham Cosmetic Surgery and Vein Center.
Katie Pagan, 44 is a very active person operating her own business and maintains her health and fitness having regular workout schedule, jogging at least 2 miles everyday. She was left with a large scarred area with deformed tissue in her abdomen that even opens up sometimes. She said this highly limits her to what she can do physically and mentally. Katie lost her home care and medical staffing business, experiences frequent nightmares and struggles to do even the simplest day to day chores.
Katie recalled how she experienced dark-colored drainage, clots and painful burning sensations as filed in her complaint in 2011. Katie requested referral to a wound care specialist several times but was let down by Rifai even after the wound was deemed infected.
Katie was admitted to Allegiance Health for 6 days with a staph infection which was due to her doctor’s delayed diagnosis and treatment of the wound that made it more and more infected that developed more problems.
Dr. Rifai denied allegations of negligence.
February 18, 2014, the 10-day medical negligence case trial ended. Circuit Judge Thomas Wilson found Dr. Rifai breached the duty to meet a standard of care which caused Pagan’s physical and economic losses.
After just 6 hours of deliberation, the jurors awarded a total of $1.3 million to Katie with breakdown as follows:
-$500,000 in damage for the physical pain and disfigurement and mental or emotional distress
-$382,000 for loss of income
-$430,000 for the economic loss through 2017
$4 Million – Jasper, Alabama
Heart attack misdiagnosed
January 15, 2008, Terry Hallmark 40, collapsed clutching his chest as he instructed his wife to call 911; he was taken by ambulance to the hospital where he could not be revived. Donna, Terry’s wife claims her husband died due to mistaking heart attack as a stomach illness. The Hallmarks were married 22 years and have 2 children.
The lawsuit states that Terry began feeling stomach pain after eating breakfast on January 11, 2008. Two days later, he went to the hospital due to continued discomfort and have also complained of chest pain and other signs and symptoms of heart trouble.
Donna sued Dr.Charles Shipman who is an emergency room doctor at Walker Baptist Medical Center. Dr. Shipman failed to question and investigate further a serious and potentially life-threatening heart condition and instead released Terry from the ER after 4 or 5 hours.
After 7 days medical malpractice trial by Circuit Judge Hoyt Elliot, the Walker County jury verdict in favor of Donna and she was awarded $4 million. The defendant failed to consider and rule out a cardiac problem before sending the patient home.
James Moncus, one of Halmmark’s attorneys believes the result of the trial and the sum of payout is a record for Walker County and he is hoping it will send a message to doctors particularly those practicing in ERs.
$4.5 Million – Plymouth, Massachusetts
Fractured rib punctured artery
March 24, 2005 9:49 AM, Geraldine Moran, 40 and mother of 3 died after a day of spring cleaning in her home the day before. She was cleaning when she fell off a 6ft tall ladder and broke several ribs. She was taken to Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Plymouth where her pelvis and chest was scanned. Doctors found one of her cracked ribs pointing close to her aorta which was deemed to be fatal. The hospital advised for Geraldine to be transferred to Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) where surgeons would be better equipped.
Geraldine was given epidural for pain relief and was monitored overnight in MGH but the hospital waited until morning to perform any procedures on her. She was noted to have bad cough and the next morning after her fall, she coughed which caused her rib to pierce her aorta. The doctors clamped Geraldine’s aorta but she did not respond and went into cardiac arrest.
Benjamin Novotny of Lubin & Meyer said Dr. Conn and Dr. Velmahos failed to order chest imaging nor assemble a trauma team to perform measures on the displaced rib.
After 2 week trial, the doctors settled and paid $4.5 million for failing to take measures that might have prevented Geraldine’s death.
$12 Million – Redding, Connecticut
Hernia operation led to
Vivian Gagliano 65, had a routine hernia operation in 2008. A doctor was said to have punctured her colon which sent Vivian to a month-long coma, massive abdominal infection which required multiple other major injuries resulting loss of most of her large intestine.
Vivian still can’t properly digest food and continues to have abdominal problems which hinders her movement.
Doctors did not realize that they have punctured her colon until after they closed the surgical wound. According to Vivian’s attorney Joshua Koskoff, she developed a massive infection, went into septic shock, had heart attack and her organs began failing as she went into a coma.
Vivian sued the hospital and doctors Venkata Bodavula and Joseph Gordon. Bodavula was the one who perforated her colon. Bodavula who is now a hand surgeon in St. Peters, Missouri denied the allegation and said it was unbelievable as he was only a resident in training at the time.
Spokeswoman Andrea Rynn of Danbury Hospital said in a statement that hospital officials disagree with the verdict and are considering an appeal saying “it was an unfortunate example of litigious environment in health care that hinders progressive reform and affects our ability to reduce health care costs for those we serve”.
May 30, 2014, jury of the medical malpractice case in Danbury Superior Court awarded $12 million to Vivian after 31 hours of deliberations.
$14.5 Million – Cleveland, Ohio
Delayed delivery resulted to
April 10, 2003, 9:00 PM, Alijah Stewart was born via emergency caesarian section with a massive brain hemorrhage. Stephanie was 36 when she was pregnant with Alijah and had history of premature delivery at 32 weeks 11 years ago during her first pregnancy.
Pamela Pantages, the Stewart’s attorney said, “Alijah currently has cerebral palsy, cognitive delays, visual impairments and other issues that require lifelong care.”
Stephanie went into labor 3 times and was admitted to MetroHealth during her pregnancy in 2003. On April 10, 6 days after her last admission, her water broke and was admitted to the hospital at 12:30 PM. She asked to deliver her baby soon but the nurse and residents on call did not agree. On 5:30 PM, upon arrival of Dr. Steven Weight the attending obstetrician, he told Stephanie that the baby is healthy as monitors showed and ignored her request to deliver.
During Alijah’s delivery, evidence showed that the brain injury occurred after 5:30 PM.
Stephanie first filed a lawsuit against Dr. Weight and the hospital in 2004; it was first dismissed due to issues involving the law firm handling the case and was refiled in June 2011. Jury ruled that there was medical negligence and Stephanie was not informed of the significant risk of brain hemorrhage related to fetal distress, she was not presented with options and her request for delivery was not granted.
June 10, 2014, Cuyahoga County Common Please Judge Ronald Suster and the jury awarded Alijah, 11 and Stephanie $14.5 million for this medical malpractice case.
-$8 million for future care costs
-$5 million for pain and suffering
-$1 million for cost of services
-$500, 000 for past economic loses
$25.3 Million – Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Strep infection leads to
Ascaris Mayo, 53, mother of 4, a Strep-A infection (normally causes sore throat) went undetected causing septic shock and massive infection which lead to amputation of all 4 limbs. She was attending Milwaukee Area Technical College hoping to get a marketing degree and was previously working for Milwaukee County Board as well.
March 2011, Ascaris spent 9 hours in Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital as she had severe abdominal pain, rapid heartbeat and fever. She was discharged about midnight and later collapsed at home during the day. Ascaris was treated for septic shock and the infection was quickly halted however, the damage to her vascular system spread through her limbs.
Jury found Dr. Jaffe 65% at fault and Gibson 35% as it stated that they failed to provide Ascaris with alternative medical diagnoses that would have led her to pursue other treatment. Defendant’s attorneys argued that Ascaris received proper treatment based on the given information at the time.
July 7, 2014, Milwaukee County jury ruled medical negligence with Ascaris and her husband were awarded $25.3 million.
-$15 million for pain and suffering
-$8.2 million in past and future health care costs
-$1.5 million for husband’s loss of companionship
$32.8 Million – Chester, Pennsylvania
Delayed delivery causes
Lily Ciechoski was delivered 1:49 AM in November 14, 2009 in Phoenixville Hospital sadly, with brain damage and Lily suffers from spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. She appeared at the trial demonstrating her physical limitations; she suffers from leg and arm spasms, has difficulty controlling her neck, has trouble walking and can speak very little.
Lily’s mother, Leslie, was admitted in the hospital in November 13, 2009 for her delivery and there are no major concerns noted. Next day, the baby’s heart rate dropped significantly from 150 beats per minute to a low 60 beats per minute rate. Nurses Christine Winter and Lana Jones-Sandy have noticed this drop in the heart rate monitor but failed to inform Leslie’s ob-gyn, Dr. Amy Cadieux. The doctor only knew about the change when she entered Leslie’s room around 1:20 AM. There was quite few minutes delay from contacting the supervisor and anesthesiologist.
Jason Archinaco, Lily’s attorney, presented an expert testimony in the trial who said Lily could have either minimal brain damage or none at all if she was delivered 15-17 minutes earlier.
January 17, 2014, Common Pleas Court jury found negligence on the part of two nurses attending Leslie. The Ciechoskis were awarded $38.8, one of the largest ever awarded in Chester County which will make certain that Lily’s medical need are well taken cared of as she grows.
Judge Robert Shenkin who presided the two week long trial dismissed Dr. Cadieux as a defendant in mid-trial and did not found a third nurse involved and the hospital negligent. The two nurses no longer work at Phoenixville Hospital.
P.S Do you know anymore medical negligence cases that received high payout/compensation last year? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks!