A Texas medical malpractice jury returned its verdict in favor of the 50-year-old plaintiff in the amount of $6,844,543 to compensate him for his total blindness that he developed over the course of two days while in the hospital following his heart surgery.
The jury’s award of $1.7 million for the plaintiff’s noneconomic damages will be reduced to approximately $335,000, pursuant to Texas’ cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases. (Is $335,000 fair and adequate compensation for the noneconomic losses (pain, suffering, etc.) suffered by the 50-year-old plaintiff who must live with total blindness caused by medical negligence?)
The plaintiff’s last settlement demand before the trial was $4.4 million, and the defendants’ last settlement offer was $750,000.
The former school maintenance supervisor had open heart surgery at the defendant hospital. The day after the surgery, the man began to slowly lose his eyesight and reported his symptoms to his nurses. The plaintiff’s Texas medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that the hospital nurses negligently failed to timely and properly report the man’s loss of vision to the critical care physician who was responsible for the man’s care. Once the critical care physician became aware of the man’s deteriorating eyesight, the Texas medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that he failed to obtain a timely ophthalmology consultation that would have led to the appropriate diagnosis and the timely treatment that would have prevented his total blindness.
The defendant critical care physician incorrectly believed that the man’s vision problems were caused by either medication that the man was given or by the anesthesia he received during his open heart surgery. The correct diagnosis was ultimately but untimely made: the man had suffered an anterior ischemic stroke of the optic nerve caused by low blood pressure during the surgery, blood loss during the surgery, and/or anemia, which, if properly and timely diagnosed and treated, would have prevented the man from becoming permanently and totally blind. The Texas medical malpractice jury determined that the critical care physician was 5% responsible for the man’s permanent injury. The cardiac surgeon who had performed the man’s open heart surgery, and his medical practice, settled with the plaintiff before trial.
The defense argued to the Texas medical malpractice jury that a stroke of the optic nerve is a very rare condition for which the defendant critical care physician should not be held responsible.
The Texas medical malpractice jury determined that the defendant hospital was 95% liable for the plaintiff’s injury.
It is unfortunate but not rare for patients who have received successful treatment for a serious medical condition to suffer a serious, unanticipated injury from negligent after-care, such as patients who acquire an infection in the hospital after successful surgery, patients who suffer serious harm because medical orders are not followed, or patients who are discharged from the hospital without receiving and/or understanding discharge instructions regarding their condition and/or their follow-up care.
If you or a family member were seriously injured as a result of medical malpractice in Texas, you should promptly find a Texas medical malpractice lawyer who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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