A federal judge in Hawaii awarded a woman and her family $24,743,668.53 in damages in a federal medical malpractice case brought in Hawaii federal court pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act, arising out of the treatment the woman received at Tripler Army Medical Center in 2013 when she went to the military hospital to deliver her third child but suffered septic shock that resulted in multi-organ failure and the loss of both of her kidneys, as well as other substantial and permanent injuries.
In an unusual twist, the U.S. Attorney had rejected a proposed $10 million settlement, which then required the plaintiff to try her medical malpractice case before a federal judge.
The plaintiff, whose husband is in the Navy, was 37-years-old when she was admitted to the labor and delivery unit of Tripler Army Medical Center at 11:40 a.m. on July 22, 2013, after which her labor was induced.
Within hours after her arrival at the military hospital, she was found to be hypotensive (low blood pressure) and had a tachycardic heart rate (a fast heart rate) on several occasions, along with being pale and clammy. After her baby was delivered at 1:10 a.m. on July 23, 2013, she experienced worsening episodes of hypotension and tachycardia; her kidneys shut down, requiring at least eight catheterizations; her pain got worse; and, her medical condition continued to deteriorate.
A rapid response team did not intervene for 48 hours, and her admission to the ICU was delayed an additional two hours. In the ICU, she was diagnosed as being in metabolic acidosis with accompanying compensatory respiratory alkalosis, requiring intubation. She required a D&C on July 24, 2013, due to vaginal bleeding. She was diagnosed with overwhelming sepsis and renal failure. Her condition deteriorated to disseminated intravascular coagulopathy (“DIC”), which resulted in multi-organ failure and permanent kidney failure as well as adult respiratory distress syndrome (“ARDS”) requiring that she be placed on a ventilator. Her group A streptococcus infection (“GAS”) resulted in bacteremia, toxic shock syndrome, and puerperal sepsis.
She suffered a cascading series of medical complications due to her serious medical conditions, including gallstones and a duodenal ulcer. She was discharged from Tripler Army Medical Center on August 24, 2013, after which she required dialysis three times per week. She was readmitted to Tripler Army Medical Center and suffered continuing medical complications, requiring additional medical procedures. She required further hospitalizations and extensive medical treatments, and was diagnosed on March 27, 2014 with PTSD related to the incident. She underwent a kidney transplant on March 25, 2015, which requires that she take immunosuppressant medications for the rest of her life. As a result, she has an increased risk of developing cancer and is more susceptible to developing diabetes and bone disease.
Her kidney transplant is expected to last for about ten years, after which she will require dialysis until she has a new kidney transplant.
Her diet is restricted and she must wear a mask in public. She must avoid sun exposure due to her increased risk of skin cancer. Her daily activities have been substantially restricted.
The federal judge determined that the plaintiff will require in the future 4 ER visits and 14.9 days of hospitalizations yearly. The federal judge further determined that the plaintiff will suffer from PTSD, depression, and anxiety from the incident for the rest of her life, which will be exacerbated each time she requires hemodialysis.
The federal judge’s award in the amount of $24,743,668.53 includes $1,495,709.03 for past medical and care expenses; $18,534,867.50 for future medical and care expenses; $538,092.00 for past and future loss of wages and impairment of earning capacity; $375,000.00 for pain and suffering (in Hawaii, damages for pain and suffering is limited to $375,000.00, pursuant to Haw. Rev. Stat. Section 663-8.7); $1,500,000.00 for mental anguish, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium; $950,000.00 for spousal mental anguish and loss of consortium; and, $450,000.00 each for the children’s mental anguish and loss of parental consortium.
If you or a loved one suffered injury (or worse) as a result of medical malpractice at a federal medical facility, you should promptly consult with a local medical malpractice lawyer in your U.S. state who handles Federal Tort Claims Act claims and who may investigate your federal medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a federal tort claim action, if appropriate.
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