Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

Earlier this month, one state’s supreme court issued an opinion in a medical malpractice case alleging that the defendant hospital was responsible for leaving a four-inch piece of tubing in the plaintiff’s body after a surgery. The case required the court to discuss the burden-shifting framework applicable in foreign-object cases, ultimately holding that the framework should apply in all cases of foreign objects being left in a patient’s body, and not just in those cases where the plaintiff cannot recall who left the object in his body.


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The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was admitted to the defendant hospital for a colon resection surgery after it was discovered that he had several cancerous polyps. The surgery went as planned, and afterwards some drainage tubing was placed into the plaintiff’s body to help get rid of extra post-surgical fluids.

Prior to his discharge, a nurse came to remove the tubing. She pulled the tubing out, discarded it, and then sent the plaintiff home. Four months later, the plaintiff returned with complaints of pain in the area where the tubing had been. It was subsequently discovered that there was approximately four inches of tubing left in his body. Another surgery was scheduled and performed to remove the tubing.

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Earlier this month, a Georgia appellate court issued an opinion that upheld a jury verdict of upwards of $21 million in a medical malpractice case. In upholding the jury’s liability and damages determinations, the court rejected all of the defendant doctor’s claims of error below. As a result of the court’s ruling, the plaintiff will receive the award as delivered by the jury.

HospitalThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was the surviving spouse of a woman who died while undergoing a medical procedure that was conducted by the defendant doctor. The plaintiff’s wife was seeing the defendant doctor for chronic back pain. The doctor recommended she undergo an epidural steroid injection procedure to reduce inflammation and relieve her pain. The procedure consisted of the localized delivery of steroids directly into the spine.

The plaintiff’s wife arrived with her daughter-in-law at 10:00 a.m. She was seen by the nurse at 2:45 p.m., when she was prepped for the procedure. Afterwards, she took a nap while she was waiting for the procedure to begin. Immediately before the procedure, she was provided fentanyl and versed, which were to help with any pain and assist in relaxation. The procedure began at 5:45 p.m.

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Earlier this month, a federal appellate court issued a written opinion in a medical malpractice case, reversing the jury’s verdict in favor of the defendant and ordering the lower court to conduct a previously overlooked analysis. In the case, Hall v. Flannery, the court reversed the jury’s verdict based on the fact that the defendant’s expert witness did not possess the proper training and experience to offer expert testimony on the subject on which he testified.

Neck X-RayThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff’s 17-year-old child passed away three days after having a surgery to repair a skull injury she sustained as a child. The exact circumstances of the girl’s death were uncertain. However, the medical examiner determined that a seizure was the likely cause of death. After her daughter’s death, the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor who performed the surgery, claiming that her daughter should have been prescribed anti-seizure medication prior to being discharged from the hospital.

The defendant notified the court that several expert witnesses would testify on his behalf. In response to the designation of the defendant’s witnesses, the plaintiff filed a motion asking the court to limit the experts’ testimony. Specifically, the plaintiff wanted to prevent the experts from testifying as to the cause of death. The plaintiff claimed that the experts did not have sufficient qualifications to make that determination.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Idaho issued a written opinion affirming a jury’s verdict in favor of the plaintiffs, finding that there was sufficient evidence to support the verdict. In the case, Hoffer v. Shappard, the court affirmed the jury’s determination that the defendant doctor was liable for the injuries sustained by the plaintiffs’ daughter after she was misdiagnosed by the defendant doctor.

Doctor's InstrumentsThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs’ daughter was born five weeks before she was due. For the first six weeks after her birth, various doctors treated the girl and did not notice anything wrong with her. However, her mother took her to one of the defendant doctors when the girl was two months old for a regular check-up. That doctor saw the girl for five visits in total.

During the visits, the plaintiffs expressed concern that their daughter had an asymmetrical skin fold, had one leg that was significantly longer than the other, and walked on her “tippy toes.” The defendant doctor dismissed the plaintiffs’ concerns, telling them that it was normal for a child under two years old.

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Earlier last month, one state’s supreme court issued a written opinion in a medical malpractice case that was dismissed by the lower court because that court determined it had been filed after the applicable statute of limitations. The court also held that the “discovery rule” did not apply in wrongful death cases caused by medical malpractice. However, the court hearing the appeal in the case of Moon v. Rhode held that the the discovery rule does apply and that the lower court failed to make a factual finding as to when the statute of limitations began to run. Therefore, it was an error to dismiss the case.

ClockThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were the surviving family members of a 90-year-old woman who died while under the care of the defendant doctors. After the woman’s death on May 29, 2009, the plaintiffs submitted a request for medical records, had them reviewed by an expert, and was told that there was more that the doctors could have done to treat their mother. During the course of the plaintiffs’ investigation, an MRI was conducted, after which it became apparent that there may have been another doctor who was also partially responsible for their mother’s death. However, this discovery was made after the two-year statute of limitations had expired. The plaintiffs filed the lawsuit nonetheless.

The defendants argued that the two-year statute of limitations should start from the date of the plaintiffs’ mother’s death. They argued that there was enough evidence present at that time to put the plaintiffs on notice that there could be a potential medical malpractice or wrongful death lawsuit. The plaintiffs, on the other hand, claimed that the only way they could possibly know about the facts giving rise to the case was after reviewing the MRI. The plaintiffs argued that since they could not have discovered the potential lawsuit until their review of the MRI, the statute of limitations should not have started until they were made aware of the MRI results.

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All medical malpractice lawsuits must be brought within a certain amount of time. This is generally known as the statute of limitations. In most cases, if a plaintiff files a case after the statute of limitations expires, the court must dismiss the case. However, there are certain exceptions to this rule that may allow a plaintiff to file a medical malpractice lawsuit after the applicable statute of limitations has technically run out.

DoctorThe Continuing Course of Treatment Doctrine

In both Maryland and Washington, D.C., plaintiffs who allege medical malpractice against a doctor must bring that lawsuit within a certain number of years from the date of the injury or the date that they discovered the injury. However, if the same doctor continues to provide treatment for the same condition, the statute of limitations may not begin to run until that treatment stops. A recent example of the continuing course of treatment doctrine arose in the case of Parr v. Rosenthal.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs’ son was born with a large bump on the back side of his calf. It took a few years to diagnose, but it was eventually determined in 2003 that the bump was a desmoid tumor, which is a rare but benign tumor that can grow to such a size that it may impair bodily function. In fact, the tumor did begin to alter the boy’s gait, and the parents discussed the removal of the tumor with the team of doctors treating their son.

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The California Court of Appeals recently published an opinion reversing a lower court ruling favoring the defendant in a medical malpractice lawsuit. The trial court had granted summary judgment to the defendant and disposed of the plaintiff’s claim by ruling that the plaintiff’s proposed medical expert, who was a licensed physician in Mexico but not the United States, could not offer testimony in support of crucial elements of the plaintiff’s case. Since the appellate court has reversed the lower ruling, the plaintiff’s lawsuit will proceed toward a trial or settlement of her claim.

GavelThe Plaintiff Suffers Worsening Symptoms After Having a Surgery Performed by the Defendant

The plaintiff in the case of Borrayo v. Avery is a woman who sought treatment from the defendant in 2009 for chronic pain in her right shoulder and arm. She was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome, which was said to be the result of repetitive stress on her joints from her history of working in clothing production. In September 2009, the defendant performed a surgery on the plaintiff, removing one of her ribs to alleviate her symptoms and treat the diagnosed condition. According to facts discussed in the appellate opinion, the plaintiff’s symptoms failed to improve, and she developed new medical problems approximately one year after the procedure. Based on her worsening condition, the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant in November 2012.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Nevada issued an opinion in what turned out to be a medical malpractice case, although the plaintiff filed the case as a battery case. In the case, Humboldt General Hospital v. Sixth Judicial District Court, the appellate court hearing the case determined that the lower court should have dismissed the plaintiff’s case because she failed to comply with the requirements of a medical malpractice case.

DoctorsThe Facts of the Case

Ms. Barrett had an intrauterine device (IUD) implanted in her body at the defendant hospital. About one year after the procedure, the hospital sent a letter to Barrett, explaining that the IUD implanted in her body had not been FDA-approved. As it turns out, the IUD was made in the same facility as the FDA-approved devices. However, since it was shipped to Canada prior to its arrival in the U.S., rather than directly to the U.S., the exact device was not approved.

Barrett filed a negligence claim against the hospital, claiming that it had a duty to only use FDA-approved devices. Barrett also filed a battery claim against the hospital, claiming that the hospital should have known that she would not consent to a non-approved device being implanted in her body. She did not file any expert affidavit or any other supporting documentation because she saw this not as a medical malpractice case but as a battery case.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Alabama decided a case discussing how a statute of repose can prevent a plaintiff’s case from proceeding forward to trial, even if the evidence against the defendant is very strong. In the case, Cutler v. University of Alabama Health Services Foundation, the court determined that since the plaintiff’s case was filed too late, he would not be permitted to seek compensation for the injuries allegedly caused by the defendant’s failure to tell him he noticed a tumor on his brain.

Brain ScanThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was involved in a serious motorcycle accident and was taken to the hospital afterward. While at the hospital, he was treated by the defendant doctor, who ordered an MRI to be performed. After looking at the results of the MRI, the doctor told the plaintiff that it looked like a bruise. However, in the doctor’s notes, there was evidence that he found a tumor on the plaintiff’s brain and noted that someone from the neurology department should follow up with the patient.

None of this was conveyed to the plaintiff, and no one followed up with him. It was not until about 10 years later, when he was involved in another car accident, that it was discovered that the plaintiff suffered from a brain tumor. Indeed, that accident was caused when the plaintiff had a seizure that was caused by the brain tumor. Once he found out about the tumor, another doctor determined that it was the same tumor that was present on the previous MRI. The tumor was then determined to be malignant. The plaintiff sued the doctor who ordered the MRI, claiming it was medical negligence to not tell the plaintiff about the tumor.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Maryland decided a very interesting case involving the parents of a young boy who died after complications involving his birth. In the case, Spangler v. McQuitty, the court determined that although the young boy had successfully recovered compensation for his injuries in a medical malpractice case against the defendants, that did not prevent the boy’s parents from pursing a wrongful death case against the same defendants based on the same conduct.

Pregnant WomanThe Facts of the Case

The McQuittys filed a birth injury case against the defendant doctors after their son was born with the severe condition of cerebral palsy. While the McQuittys were actually the ones who were filing the paperwork, the lawsuit was brought in the name of their son. Ultimately, this case was successful, and their son recovered $5 million for his injuries.

After the boy recovered for his injuries, he passed away from complications related to the injuries he sustained at birth. After their son’s death, the boy’s parents then filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the same defendants, claiming that they were responsible for their son’s death. In response to the allegations, the defendants claimed that they had already been held liable for their negligence in delivering the boy, so they should not be subject to liability again.

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