The members of a Georgia medical malpractice jury apparently could not all agree whether to find for the plaintiff or the defendant hospital in a medical malpractice case, and therefore returned its verdict on February 29, 2016, after a nine-day trial and two days of deliberations, in favor of the plaintiff in the amount of $1,263,844, but finding that the defendant hospital was only 51% responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries and that the plaintiff was 49% responsible for her own injuries. Therefore, the plaintiff will receive $644,560 from the amount awarded by the jury.
The Alleged Facts
The 60-year-old plaintiff and her husband dined at a Mexican restaurant in January 2012, and then returned home. Around midnight that evening, the plaintiff woke up and complained about having a headache. She was also nauseous and vomited. Her symptoms continued over the course of the next two days. Her husband then brought her to the emergency room of the defendant hospital.
In the emergency room, the woman’s blood pressure was elevated and she complained to the nurse that she had a headache, was nauseous, and had vomited. However, the nurse failed to document in the woman’s medical record that she complained of a headache (the defense claimed that the woman reported that she had nausea, had vomiting, and was dehydrated, and that she advised the emergency room that she had a history of high blood pressure). The emergency room medical personnel believed that the woman was suffering from food poisoning based on her symptoms. She was provided morphine for her headache yet her increasing blood pressure was not addressed. Early the next morning, the woman was discharged from the emergency room.
While at home during the following five days, the woman’s condition did not improve. She experienced difficulty getting up from the couch at home and she was unable to eat because her mouth was not properly working. She returned to the emergency room where a head CT scan revealed that she had a ruptured aneurysm that had caused a brain hemorrhage and swelling. She was transferred to another hospital for surgery but severe spasming of her blood vessels prevented her from having surgery. As a result, she became totally disabled and is now unable to verbally communicate.
The plaintiffs’ Georgia medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that the emergency room medical personnel should have recognized that the woman’s hypertension in the ER required that she have a head CT scan at that time in order to properly work up the reason for her headache and increasing high blood pressure, which would have diagnosed the woman’s aneurysm that could have been timely treated and would have avoided her permanent and severely disabling injury.
The defense argued that the defendants’ actions were proper under the circumstances, noting that the woman’s condition improved while she was in the emergency room. The defense noted that the woman was instructed to return to the emergency room if her condition did not improve, and that she failed to do so for five days. The woman was also instructed to make an appointment with her primary care physician to address her high blood pressure, which she failed to do.
Some of the attorneys involved in this Georgia medical malpractice case believe that some members of the jury felt sympathy for the woman’s present condition and therefore the jury compromised their verdict by finding in the woman’s favor against the hospital only (the jury found in favor of the defendant emergency room physician) but also finding that she was 49% responsible for her own injuries.
If you or a loved one were injured in Georgia or in another U.S. state due to possible medical negligence, you should promptly find a medical malpractice lawyer in Georgia or 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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