Lawsuit Filed Over Delayed Care For Stroke Victim
A $13.5 million judgment was recently entered against a hospital for failing to properly treat a stroke patient. The lawsuit was filed in Idaho, where there is a cap of $400,000 on non-economic or pain-and-suffering damages. The law provides that Idaho residents can recover more than the statutory limit when there is evidence of gross negligence or willful misconduct. The jury found that the breaches of the standard of care in this case were so egregious that the patient was entitled to enhanced damages.
For medical malpractice attorneys, these lawsuits are like golden eggs. It’s very easy for a jury to follow along and understand why a patient was injured when there are allegations of gross negligence. In cases of simple medical negligence, it can get confusing because it may not be obvious what the doctor did wrong or what could have been done differently.
In this case, the ER doctor chose to admit the patient and order an MRI but he was not moved for 3 hours. It took another 4 hours before he was seen by another doctor. By the time the doctors had diagnosed a stroke, nearly 12 hours had passed. The patient can no longer walk as a result of his injuries.
Analyzing the allegations
Lawsuits against ER doctors are hard to win because the standard of care for emergency medicine is lower than the standard of care for specialists. ER doctors have to make split second calls, so as long as they can justify the decision, they can usually beat a lawsuit. In this case, however, the doctors just dropped the ball, failed to get the patient to observation, failed to get the patient an MRI on time, and failed to get the patient treatment for his stroke in a meaningful way. So, ultimately, the jury didn’t have to pore over complex medical documents to decide that the hospital dropped the ball. The hospital simply didn’t put the patient in a position to get the care they needed in time.
The defense argued that their doctors did provide the standard of care. This particular case went to trial, so a jury returned a verdict on behalf of the plaintiff after over 6 years of litigation. In this case, the civil defense team simply said that their doctor’s standard of care was within medically accepted standards. They further claim that the patient’s outcome was more the result of pre-existing conditions than their own malpractice. Ultimately, you can’t disprove that. It’s always within the realm of possibility that some unknown factor played a greater role than the known ones, so if a doctor or their insurance company chooses to defend a lawsuit, chances are good they’ll say the injury was the result of a pre-existing condition. Nonetheless, they lost.
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Palmer | Lopez represents the interests of Tampa residents who have been injured by negligent doctors or hospitals. Call our Tampa medical malpractice lawyers today to schedule a free consultation and we can begin discussing your injuries immediately.