A Massachusetts medical malpractice jury awarded $250,000 to the family of a 78-year-old hospital patient who died as a result of alleged hospital negligence. The Massachusetts wrongful death verdict was rendered on December 20, 1016, after a two-week trial and after fifteen hours of jury deliberations over the course of three days.
The elderly man went to the defendant hospital’s emergency department on Easter Sunday in 2008, complaining that he was short of breath and that he had experienced an unexplained weight gain. He was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and atrial flutter, resulting in his admission to the defendant hospital.
The man’s condition deteriorated during his first night in the hospital and the medical staff decided that the man would be transferred to the critical care unit (CCU) of the hospital that morning, for appropriate medical care. However, the transfer to the CCU did not occur for eleven hours, until after the man became unresponsive.
Once in the CCU, the man was intubated but remained unconscious. A decision was made eleven days later to remove him from life support, after which he died.
The Massachusetts medical malpractice jury determined that the defendant hospital’s nurses breached the standard of care by failing to transfer the man to the CCU, as instructed, and that their medical negligence was a substantial contributing cause of his death.
A spokesperson for the defendant hospital stated after the Massachusetts medical malpractice jury rendered its verdict, “We disagree with this verdict and believe the evidence fully supported our position since the individual defendant providers were found not liable.”
Sometimes the single act or omission of a single medical provider is the medical negligence that leads to a patient’s avoidable harm. Other times, the medical negligence and failures of multiple medical providers, acting in concert or alone, lead to unnecessary injuries suffered by patients. Often, if a single link in the chain of medical negligence had been broken by a medical provider complying with the applicable standard of care, the patient’s harm due to medical malpractice would have been limited or eliminated.
According to the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Health Care, an estimated 80% of serious medical errors involve miscommunication between caregivers during the transfer of patients.
There were 23,685 medical malpractice cases filed in the United States from 2009 to 2013, representing $1.7 billion in incurred losses. Communication failures leading to medical malpractice claims involved provider-to-provider communication failures (57%) and provider-to-patient communication failures (55%), with an overlap in failures in 12% of the medical malpractice cases. Provider-to-provider cases represented 73% of the incurred losses; provider-to-patient cases represented 43% of the incurred losses; and, the overlap represented 16% of the incurred losses.
If you or a loved one suffered a serious harm (or worse) due to hospital negligence in Massachusetts or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a hospital malpractice lawyer in Massachusetts, or a hospital malpractice lawyer in your state, who may investigate your hospital malpractice claim for you and represent you in a hospital medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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