"Largest Settlements of 2004"
As listed in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, January 17, 2005
Lubin & Meyer Dominates with 12 Medical Malpractice
Settlements of $1 Million or More in 2004
Related excerpts from Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly article
$5.5 million – Brain-Damage Case Focuses on Care By Midwife, Nurse
The plaintiff mother was 15 when she entered the hospital to deliver her daughter. She had no problems or complications during her pregnancy. Defendant #1, the certified nurse midwife, made the decision to rupture the membranes to see if that would speed up labor. Light green meconium was found, which was an indication that the baby had undergone some stress and required monitoring by the nurse-midwife and nursing staff. Defendant #2, a labor nurse, then took over care of the plaintiff and her baby during this part of her labor and remained with the plaintiff at all times. As a result of these pushing efforts, there were changes on the fetal heart monitor, reportedly indicating that the baby was not tolerating this active phase of labor and needed help. Neither the defendant midwife nor the defendant labor nurse reportedly called a physician to evaluate the plaintiff or the fetal heart monitor, or took steps to intervene or help the baby. She suffered from permanent brain damage caused during the labor and delivery process.
$3.75 million – Child Received Lethal Dosage of Nutritional Solution
On May 26, 2003, the plaintiff’s decendent, then 6 years old, was admitted to the hospital for diagnosis and treatment of a suspected appendicitis. Surgery was performed, and post-operatively the plaintiff’s decendent was doing well. Since his bowel sounds were slow to return, it was decided to insert a PIC line for TPN. An order for “adult” TPN was submitted to the pharmacy by the dietician responsible for making TPN recommendations for this patient. The pharmacist filling the order contacted the dietician to inquire why adult TPN had been requested for a pediatric patient. The dietician then obtained a new order for “pediatric” TPN. The pharmacist entered the order into the pharmacy’s computerized TPN Admixture System. The initial bag of TPN solution created was done so using a pediatric template. After obtaining the new pediatric order the dietician was informed that this was indeed the practice and that when the orders were made for the next day’s TPN solution, it should be an adult order. The pharmacist entered an adult order into a pediatric template. The plaintiffs contended the checks and balances system in place at the institution failed to prevent the lethal bag of nutrition from being administered to the plaintiff’s decedent.
$3.5 million – Baby’s Bacterial Meningitis Misdiagnosed in Hospital ER
The minor plaintiff was a healthy 3-month old boy who developed a fever. His parents took him to the pediatrician and after evaluation were told to return with the baby if the fever did not resolve. Two days later, the parents brought the minor plaintiff to the Emergency Department of the local hospital, reporting that he had a fever of 102.5 degrees. The child was diagnosed with a viral syndrome, and discharged home. One week later, the minor plaintiff’s parents reported that he had a temperature of 103 degrees. A CBC test performed was suggestive of an acute, ongoing bacterial infection. The minor plaintiff was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis. The minor plaintiff suffered massive seizures and imaging studies revealed elevated intracranial pressure, multiple areas of infarction and cortical blindness subsequent to his meningitis. The minor plaintiff suffers from permanent brain damage. The defendants maintained that the diagnosis of bacteremia or a viral syndrome was reasonable as the child appeared too healthy during all of the examinations, and that the minor plaintiff would have appeared clinically worse had he been suffering from this sever an infection at the time they treated him.
$3 million – Infant Goes Into Fetal Distress, Born with Cerebral Palsy
The minor plaintiff was born on Aug. 29, 1997. He suffered from cerebral palsy, was unable to site or stand on his own, walked only with a walker and was unable to speak. At 38.5 weeks, the minor plaintiff’s mother was admitted to the hospital for delivery. Up to this date, she had experienced no problems during her pregnancy. She was sent to the hospital where her care was managed by the two defendants: a nurse midwife and a nurse. Evidence indicated that the defendants listened to the minor plaintiff’s heart rate three times for no more than one minute on each occasion. The fetal heart monitor then showed that the minor plaintiff was in serous fetal distress with a heart rate in the 70s. The mother was brought to the operating room and an emergency Caesarean section was performed. The defendants maintained throughout the litigation process that the care they rendered was appropriate. Further, the defendants were prepared to present expert medical testimony that there was no way to determine when the brain injury occurred, but that there was no evidence to suggest that it occurred during the time the defendants were caring for the plaintiff.
$2.9 million – Twin in Fetal Distress Born with Brain Injury
This case involved the delivery of twin boys at 35 weeks. Twin A was born with profound brain injuries. Twin B was born without any injury. The defendants were the mother’s primary obstetrician, a nurse midwife who interpreted a non-stress test the day before delivery and the covering obstetrician on the day of delivery. The defendants denied that they were negligent and maintained that nothing they did or failed to do contributed to any of the minor plaintiff’s injuries. The plaintiffs claimed that the pregnancy should have been treated as a high-risk pregnancy and was not, and further that the providers caring for the plaintiffs on the day of delivery failed to recognize signs of fetal distress warranting immediate delivery via C-section. The covering obstetrician undertook emergency Caesarean section to deliver Twin A, who was subsequently diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
$1.75 million – Woman Suffers Neurological Injury Following Surgery
In April 1997, the plaintiff was a 44-year-old woman who underwent elective surgery to remove a herniated disc from her cervical spine. Within one day of the surgery, the plaintiff began to experience migraine type headaches. The defendants were aware of her complaints and planned for increased analgesics and activity. Despite these abnormal and significant signs and symptoms, no steps were taken by the defendants to further investigate their cause or source. The plaintiff has suffered permanent neurological injury affecting her memory; concentration; ability to swallow; right upper extremity paralysis; poor balance and coordination. The defendants maintained that the plaintiff had a prior history of migraine headaches and that the headaches she complained of while in the hospital were the same as those she had experienced in the past. The defendants further argued that the plaintiff’s dissection was not predictable or preventable and at the first sign of altered mental status, she was taken to CT and emergent surgical interventions were undertaken.
$1.5 million – Woman Dies from Brain Injury After Eye Surgery
This case involved the death of a 48-year old woman as a result of an anoxic brain injury following non-emergent eye surgery. The defendants were two surgeons, three anesthesiologists, a certified registered nurse anesthetist and a staff nurse. The plaintiffs claimed that because the decendent had acute bronchitis and a history of sleep apnea, her surgery should have been deferred until resolution of the respiratory infection. The plaintiffs claimed that the decendent was improperly cared for postoperatively when providers failed to prescribe CPAP and proper monitoring devices and when they administered multiple sedating drugs to a patient at high risk for respiratory crisis after surgery. The surgery went ahead as scheduled, with the remaining two defendant anesthesiologists and the certified registered nurse anesthetist in attendance. None performed a thorough respiratory assessment prior to the start of the procedure or took steps to ensure proper postoperative management of the patient’s sleep apnea and acute respiratory infection.
$1.5 million – Man Dies After Color Cancer Undiagnosed
The plaintiff’s decendent was a 54-year-old man who died of metastatic colon cancer on Oct. 24, 1998. Despite his history of rectal bleeding, abdominal pain and guiaic positive stool, the defendants caring for the decedent failed to evaluate his entire colon. The decedent’s colon cancer went undiagnosed and untreated for more than two years, and he died at the age of 54. The plaintiff’s experts were prepared to testify that the accepted standard of care required the defendant to schedule a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy with barium enema in order to visualize and inspect the entire colon. A screening sigmoidoscopy was not acceptable when a patient was symptomatic. Despite the presence of occult blood, the defendant schedule only a sigmoidoscopy and the second defendant performed this procedure on Aug. 30, 1995.
$1.4 million – Premature Birth Blamed on Doctor
The minor plaintiff suffered from spastic diplegia, a form of cerebral palsy, and other permanent sequela, which his treating doctors attributed to his premature birth. Prior to his delivery, the minor plaintiff’s mother reportedly had a history that placed here at great risk for incompetent cervix which caused the mother to anticipate the use of a cerclage with all future pregnancies. Despite the prior history and information provided by the fertility specialists, the defendant stated that cerclage would not be necessary, as the defendant allegedly did not believe the other had an incompetent cervix, but that he would evaluate her with serial ultrasounds. The defendant maintained throughout the litigation process that the mother’s history was not consistent with an incompetent cervix and that he did not feel that her history warranted a cerclage.
$1 million – Spinal Hematoma Results in Permanent Paralysis
The plaintiff was a 47-year-old woman who, after a scuba diving outing, began experiencing mid-back pain that radiated to her head. She developed weakness in her lower limbs, which caused them to become paralyzed. The defendant physician made note of her back pain and headache, and ordered a head CT. At the time of the CT, the plaintiff claimed she had no feeling in her left leg,, and after the CT she had no feeling in either leg. The defendant physician contended that the plaintiff was having a conversion reaction. The plaintiff was seen by her primary care physician who ordered a neurology consultant to rule out spinal cord compression. The plaintiff then underwent a T3-6 laminectomy for removal of a subdural hematoma. The plaintiff remained with a complete spinal level parlaysis. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant physician was negligent in misdiagnosing the subdural hematoma, and in failing to rule out a physical cause of the problem. The defendant physician asserted that he did not misdiagnose the plaintiff and that his care and treatment of the plaintiff was appropriate and reasonable.
$1 million – Fetal Distress Results in Child’s Neurologic Injury
The minor plaintiff’s mother began seeing the defendant obstetrician for prenatal care. The minor plaintiff’s mother was admitted to the hospital in active labor. She was placed on a fetal heart monitor and the nurse noted that the tracing was reactive and reassuring. Then signs of a problem with the baby’s ability to handle the stresses of labor began. It was the opinion of the plaintiff’s experts that a tachycardic heart rate for a baby is a sign that the baby is suffering fetal distress and that a Caesarean section was warranted to avoid neurologic injury. The defendant decided that the heart rate was normal and he allowed the labor to continue. The minor plaintiff was delivered vaginally. The minor plaintiff now uses leg braces and has serious speech difficulty. The defendant maintained at trial that he complied with the standard of care expected of him.
$1 million – Woman Says Ultrasound Would Have Shown Cancer
When the plaintiff’s decedent was in her 30s, she became pregnant with her first child. Lab work revealed abnormal thyroid function tests and she was referred to the defendant endocrinologist. The defendant ordered an ultrasound that revealed a large mass in the right lobe of the thyroid gland. A needle biopsy led to the diagnosis of thyroid cancer. The decendent was treated with radioactive iodine therapy and diagnosed with bilateral pulmonary metastases. She eventually died. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant was negligent in not obtaining ultrasound sooner. The defendant and his experts claimed that he did not deviate from accepted medical practice.
See also: Largest Settlements in 2003
See also: Featured Verdicts of 2004
See also: Largest Settlements in 2005
See also: Top Verdicts of 2005
See also: Largest Settlements in 2006
See also: Largest Settlements 2007
See also: Top Verdicts 2007
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