On September 12, 2012, a San Francisco, California medical malpractice jury returned a verdict in the total amount of $1,138,000 in favor of the medical malpractice plaintiffs. The medical malpractice trial lasted one month in the Superior Court during which the medical malpractice jury heard testimony from the parties, their experts, and considered all of the evidence introduced during the trial before returning their verdict.
The medical malpractice jury determined that a cardiologist, who happens to be the president of the San Francisco Medical Society, committed medical malpractice and that the medical malpractice was a substantial factor in the death of his patient in August, 2009. The jury’s vote was 11 to 1.
The patient was a 59-year-old woman who underwent heart surgery in July, 2009. She was placed on Coumadin after her surgery to thin her blood and prevent blood clots, which must be regularly monitored to insure that the level of Coumadin in the blood is not too much or too little to be effective. Too much Coumadin can lead to internal bleeding and other serious medical problems. Frequent blood testing helps determine the level of Coumadin in the bloodstream and helps determine if the amount of daily Coumadin must be adjusted.
When the woman’s blood was tested by her cardiologist on August 4, 2009, three days after she was discharged from the hospital following her heart surgery, the Coumadin level in her blood was determined to be within the normal range. The cardiologist’s plan was to test the woman’s blood again in three to four weeks.
On August 12, 2009, the woman went to the cardiologist’s office for treatment of a rash. The cardiologist did not test her blood at that time.
On August 19, 2009, the woman’s family called the cardiologist’s office complaining that the woman was lethargic and had a loss of appetite, but no blood testing was done at that time.
On August 26, 2009, the woman’s family found her bleeding and unconscious. The woman died the following day.
The woman’s family alleged that the cardiologist failed to order more frequent tests of the woman’s blood to make sure that it was within the normal coagulation range (Coumadin levels in patients’ blood must be regularly and carefully monitored because a level of too much or too little Coumadin in the blood can be very serious or fatal). The medical malpractice plaintiffs alleged that if the cardiologist had conducted timely and appropriate blood tests for the Coumadin level in the woman’s blood, the woman’s abnormal level of the blood thinner would have been detected and appropriate measures could have been taken that would have prevented the internal bleeding that led to the woman’s death.
The San Francisco medical malpractice jury awarded the woman’s daughter $138,000 in damages for the medical expenses and funeral expenses of her mother and an additional $1 million for her emotional distress. Because of California’s cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases in the amount of $250,000, the $1 million awarded by the medical malpractice jury for the daughter’s emotional distress due to her mother’s death will be automatically reduced by $750,000.
If you or a loved one have been injured due to possible medical malpractice in San Francisco, in another area of California, or in another state in the United States, you should promptly contact a local medical malpractice attorney to learn about your right to be compensated for your injuries and losses.
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