In our blog posted on July 17, 2014 that was entitled, “Ohio Medical Malpractice Trial For Sponge Left After Surgery,” we discussed an Ohio medical malpractice/wrongful death case that was in the middle of a jury trial in which the surviving husband of a woman who died 15 months after she had surgery where a surgical sponge had been negligently left inside of her (the surgeon admitted that it was medical negligence to have left the sponge in his patient following the extensive abdominal surgery) claimed that the left-behind sponge caused or contributed to his wife’s death.
On July 18, 2014, the Ohio medical malpractice jury that heard the medical malpractice case awarded the husband $100,000, finding that there was medical negligence that did cause harm but also finding that the retained sponge was not a cause of his wife’s death or contributed to her death. The jury did not award the surviving husband any amount for his loss of consortium claim.
So why do we describe the outcome of this Ohio medical malpractice case as a loss when the jury found the defendant surgeon negligently left the sponge in the woman during her surgery and awarded $100,000 for her injury as a result of the medical negligence?
Because the husband-plaintiff believed and alleged but did not convince the jury that the incident led to his wife’s death (and therefore the jury did not award any amount for her death), and because the jury failed to compensate the husband for the harm caused to their marriage due to the defendant surgeon’s admitted medical negligence (the left-behind sponge resulted in the defendant surgeon making two surgical attempts to remove the sponge that were both unsuccessful — during one of the attempts, the defendant surgeon allegedly injured the woman’s spleen; the woman had to endure a subsequent 9-hour surgery at the Cleveland Clinic that successfully removed the sponge).
As a practical matter, assuming that the parties to the Ohio medical malpractice case resolve the matter by the defendant surgeon’s medical malpractice insurance company paying the amount of the verdict and the husband accepting same, the husband will likely receive very little, if any amount, when the advanced costs of the litigation are repaid, his attorneys are paid their agreed-upon fee, and any medical expenses liens are paid out of the proceeds of the payment.
Perhaps more important to the plaintiff-husband, he had to endure years of emotional trauma and stress related to the medical malpractice litigation that included depositions in which he had to relive the events, defense experts who challenged his medical malpractice claims, and attending, participating in, and sitting through the medical malpractice pretrial events and the trial itself.
As for the medical malpractice plaintiff’s attorneys, when all is said and done, they devoted hundreds of hours of their professional time to attempting to assist their client, for which they received very limited compensation when compared to fees they may have obtained had they instead spent their time on more financially rewarding endeavors.
Nonetheless, we often hear from medical malpractice plaintiff lawyers who experience an unfavorable jury verdict that their disappointment in the financial results are somewhat offset by their knowledge that they tried their best to assist their plaintiff-clients and that the medical malpractice case did provide their clients with some sense of closure.
If you or a family member may have been injured, or worse, as a result of medical malpractice in Ohio or in another U.S. state, you should promptly consult with an Ohio medical malpractice attorney or a medical malpractice attorney in your state who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your family member in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.