On October 24, 2013, the Court of Claims of Ohio approved the $2.3 million settlement reached between the University of Cincinnati and a woman who became paralyzed as a result of medical malpractice. It took just over six years from the date that the woman filed her medical malpractice claim until the settlement was reached and approved by the court.
The Underlying Facts
According to the medical malpractice lawsuit that was filed on October 23, 2007, the 50-year-old woman went to a hospital emergency room on June 28, 2006, with symptoms including right shoulder pain, limited range of motion of her right upper extremity, a nonproductive cough, and a fever between 103 and 104 degrees. She was admitted to the hospital and a chest CT scan on June 29, 2006 was read as normal. Although an infectious process was considered and her doctors contemplated performing a spinal tap procedure to rule out an infection, the spinal tap procedure was never ordered. Blood culture tests were ordered and done, but the woman was discharged from the hospital without the benefit of the results of the blood culture tests and without a diagnosis.
One or two days later, the results of the blood culture tests indicated that the woman had an infection: Staphylococcus aureus. Three days after the woman was discharged from the hospital, one of the physicians who treated her in the hospital was made aware of the blood culture test results but failed to advise the woman.
The woman was seen in another hospital emergency room (the day before the prior emergency room physician was made aware of the blood culture test results), complaining of severe pain in her right shoulder, neck, and back with muscle weakness and fever. Despite lab tests that indicated that the woman had an infection, she was again discharged from the emergency room, again without a diagnosis.
Four days later, the woman experienced progressive paraplegia, slurred speech, weakness in her upper and lower extremities, and acute renal failure. She returned to the second hospital emergency room where she was finally diagnosed with an epidural abscess. Despite treatment, she suffered paraplegia, allegedly due to the failure to timely and appropriately diagnose and treat her infection.
The University of Cincinnati was named as a medical malpractice defendant because it operated a family practice residency program at the first hospital, where the woman’s medical malpractice lawsuit alleged she received negligent medical care.
The woman’s medical malpractice complaint claimed, “As direct and proximate results of the negligence of Defendants, [the Plaintiff] has suffered significant injuries, has been rendered permanently and totally physically disabled at age 50; has been forced to undergo multiple dangerous and painful diagnostic and therapeutic procedures; has incurred physical pain and mental distress, and expects to incur such expenses and losses and suffer pain and disability for the remainder of her life. Currently age 51, Plaintiff has a life expectancy of 34 additional years.”
The medical malpractice case was filed in the Court of Claims because the Court of Claims has original jurisdiction to hear and determine all civil actions filed against the State of Ohio and its agencies, such as the University of Cincinnati.
If you or someone you know may have been injured due to medical malpractice in Ohio or in another state in the U.S., you should promptly seek to 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 in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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