Family Settles Lawsuit After Loved One Left In “Permanent Comatose State”
A 46-year-old woman was left in a “permanent comatose state” after a hysterectomy. Her family filed a lawsuit against the hospital which was recently settled for an undisclosed amount of money. The terms of the settlement will remain confidential. The woman is now in a state of “wakeful unresponsiveness” and requires 24-hour care at a traumatic brain injury facility. A trial was scheduled for February, but had been postponed several times due to issues related to the pandemic.
In this case, the surgeon was not named in the lawsuit and was found not negligent of any wrongdoing. However, the hospital and an anesthesiologist were named in the lawsuit, and the allegations indicate that a lack of follow-up care resulted in substantial brain damage. The patient had stopped breathing for several minutes before anyone intervened. By then, it was already too late. The hospital was found to be negligent in the woman’s care for not adhering to hospital policy when it came to recent surgical patients. The woman never fully woke up from her surgery and nobody intervened when her breathing appeared labored and eventually stopped.
In a lawsuit like this, there are multiple plaintiffs. The injured mother is one plaintiff, her husband is another, and her five children are also plaintiffs. The mother can sue to recover damages related to her extensive inpatient fees, lost wages, and reduced quality of life. Her children can sue for emotional grief and loss of companionship. Her husband can sue for loss of spousal consortium. In other words, this is more like a wrongful death lawsuit than your typical personal injury lawsuit. However, hospitals tend to pay much less when they end a patient’s life than when they render the patient completely incapacitated. Why?
Well, the hospital is responsible for the patient’s present and future medical expenses. That figure tends to be much lower in wrongful death lawsuits for obvious reasons. When the patient survives, they require ongoing intensive 24-care for the remainder of their lives. When a patient dies, they are not entitled to that recovery. Hence, permanent debilitating injury lawsuits tend to pay out greater sums than wrongful death lawsuits. While all of the other damages related to the family’s emotional grief would still be compensable, a dead person does not need lifelong medical treatment.
Everyone throws the anesthesiologist under the bus
The hospital, in this case, cannot delegate liability to a third party even when that party, like the anesthesiologist, works for another company. While the anesthesiologist and his company were both defendants in this lawsuit, allegations directly against the hospital were made involving two nurses that didn’t respond to the patient’s distress. Nonetheless, the hospital blamed the problem on the anesthesiologist who vehemently denies liability.
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Palmer | Lopez files medical malpractice lawsuits on behalf of patients injured by negligent doctors. Call our Tampa medical malpractice attorneys today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.