A Milwaukee couple received a $25.3 million Wisconsin medical malpractice verdict on July 7, 2014, after three weeks of trial, as a result of an undiagnosed serious bacterial infection that ultimately led to the woman having all of her limbs amputated. The verdict included $8.2 million for the woman’s past and anticipated future medical expenses and economic damages.
The balance of the verdict included $15 million for the woman’s pain and suffering and $1.5 million for her husband’s loss of consortium claim. However, the noneconomic damages award will be reduced to $750,000, pursuant to Wisconsin’s cap on noneconomic damages in Wisconsin medical malpractice cases. If there was ever a case where Wisconsin’s cap on noneconomic damages is unfair and unjust, this is the case…
The 53-year-old woman went to the hospital in March 2011, complaining of severe abdominal pain, a fever, and a rapid heartbeat. She was discharged from the emergency room after nine hours and was advised to follow up with her gynecologist for issues involving fibroids.
Later that same day, the woman collapsed at home and was rushed to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with a Strep A bacterial infection that was successfully treated with antibiotics. Unfortunately, the delay in diagnosing and treating the serious bacterial infection caused septic shock resulting in severe damage to her vascular system, which ultimately resulted in the amputation of all four of her limbs.
While the Wisconsin medical malpractice jury determined that neither the physician nor the physician’s assistant who treated the woman during her initial visit to the emergency room were medically negligent, the jury found that they both failed to provide the woman with alternative medical diagnoses (i.e., that she may have had a serious infection based on her presenting symptoms) that the woman alleged in her medical malpractice case would have led her to seek other medical treatment had she been provided the information. The jury found that the physician was 65% at fault and that the physician’s assistant was 35% at fault in not providing the required information to the woman.
Despite this large Wisconsin medical malpractice verdict, Wisconsin continues to enact laws that make it very difficult, if not impossible, for the most harmed Wisconsin medical malpractice victims to receive fair and adequate compensation for their injuries: in addition to the current $750,000 cap on noneconomic damages in Wisconsin medical malpractice cases, Wisconsin enacted a new informed consent law last year that would probably have left the woman in this case without compensation for her catastrophic injuries (the new law, which was pushed through the Wisconsin State Legislature as a result of heavy lobbying by the Wisconsin Medical Society, determines informed consent by what a reasonable physician would tell a patient; the old informed consent law required physicians to advise their patients what a reasonable patient would want to know).
Wisconsin medical malpractice reforms have had a devastating effect on medical malpractice victims in Wisconsin: there were 140 medical malpractice cases filed in Wisconsin in 2013, representing a reduction by more than 50% since 1999. Wisconsin medical malpractice victims have been finding it increasingly difficult to find medical malpractice lawyers in Wisconsin to represent them.
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 8, 2014.
If you have been seriously injured as a result of medical malpractice in Wisconsin or in another U.S. state, you should promptly seek the legal advice of a local Wisconsin medical malpractice attorney or a medical malpractice attorney in your state who may investigate your medical negligence claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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