Even with the frequency of malpractice settlements being on the decline, statistics shows that at least half of all doctors will deal with a malpractice case at some point in their life. Though a malpractice suit can happen in any area of medical practice or medicine, it occurs more so in the field of obstetrics and gynecology. Here are some of the largest malpractice settlements that have happened in the last three years.
Teva Pharmaceuticals is an Israeli-based maker of generic drugs that faced close to 150 lawsuits over their drug Propofol, which was distributed by The Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada and its sister clinics. It is possible that 60,000 patients of these clinics were exposed to the disease when nurse anesthetists at the Nevada clinics used unsafe injection practices. While the final settlement was for 120 personal injury lawsuits, another trial is underway for 15 additional cases of Hepatitis C.
Between the years of 1988 and 2013, obstetrics and gynecology doctor Nikita Levy was employed by Johns Hopkins. During this time, he is accused of photographing over 9,000 plaintiffs using surveillance cameras hidden around his office. There was even one found in a camera pen. Johns Hopkins was sued for malpractice because it was believed they should have been aware of Levy’s actions and that their failure to investigate or supervise the doctor allowed him to photograph his patients. The suit was settled for $190 million and Levy was fired from the hospital. He committed suicide just ten days later.
Stacey Galette, a 34-year old single mother, underwent surgery in 2009 due to an ectopic pregnancy. After the surgery, she was sent home despite complaints of fever, extreme pain, and an abnormal heart rate. Only three days later she had to be admitted once again, for a stay in the intensive care unit that would last 73 days. She suffered three different episodes of cardiac arrest, needed skin grafts, and underwent a colostomy. Galette also suffered hearing loss because of the antibiotics she was given and eventually needed an amputation of both feet, and then both legs below the knee.
Galette sued for malpractice under the premise that her intestine had been punctured during the surgery and the events that followed caused blood poisoning, infection, and gangrene. The subsequent consequences had life-altering effects, including a slight loss in hearing and loss of both of her legs. She was awarded $4 million for medical expenses, $20 million for past pain and suffering, and $38 million for future pain and suffering. Winthrop University Hospital plans to appeal this case, claiming that the puncture of an intestine is a known complication and that it was their intervention that saved her life.
The plaintiff, in this case, was Joshua Wahl, who is a paraplegic. Aurora Residential Alternatives was sued for negligence in regards to a sore (identified as Stage IV decubitus ulcer with osteomyelitis) that he suffered for 6-8 weeks before medical attention was sought. This ulcer was the result of the staff failing to turn and reposition Joshua to relieve pressure. In early October of 2011, a staff person attempted to dress it in gauze and use baby powder on it, without seeking medical advice. He was sent to urgent care later in the month and returned with specific medical instruction. The staff failed to follow through and Joshua ended up with sepsis in December. It took nearly a full year in a skilled nursing facility for his wounds to finally heal. He was awarded over $3.5 million for negligence and punitive damages.
As seen from the above cases, medical malpractice insurance is a necessity for any type of healthcare provider. It is encouraged to research which insurance would be the most beneficial as there are many companies, such as Oros Risk, out there.
The writer of this article, Lautaro Martinez, is a professional student and freelance writer. If you would like to learn more about Lautaro, check out his Google+ profile.