An Indiana couple were excitedly looking forward to the birth of their daughter in 2003 when the mother-to-be had a fetal blood sampling procedure conducted that they allege was negligently performed and led to the premature birth of their daughter at 33 weeks. The premature birth led to their daughter being diagnosed with cerebral palsy that has left her a quadriplegic, unable to speak, and requires that she receive nutrition through a feeding tube.
The parents filed their Indiana medical malpractice lawsuit on behalf of their severely injured daughter in 2005, alleging that the defendant doctor and defendant hospital were negligent by failing to provide continuous ultrasound guidance during the fetal blood sampling procedure and that there was inadequate medical staffing during the procedure. The Indiana medical malpractice trial took place in 2013.
Testimony from the plaintiffs’ expert at trial estimated that it would cost between $8 million and $10 million to provide lifetime care for the injured child, who is now twelve years old. The Indiana medical malpractice jury returned its verdict in favor of the plaintiffs in the amount of $15 million. However, the plaintiffs have yet to receive any of the money that the jury determined was fair and adequate compensation for their daughter’s injuries due to medical negligence.
Indiana medical malpractice law imposes a cap on medical malpractice damages in the amount of $1.25 million (Indiana’s cap on damages in medical malpractice cases was enacted in 1975, the first U.S. state to enact so-called medical malpractice reforms, which provides that physicians are responsible for only the first $250,000 in medical malpractice damages, with an aggregate cap in the amount of $750,000 per year, and that the Indiana Patient’s Compensation Fund is responsible for the excess, up to a maximum of $1 million).
The plaintiffs note that Indiana’s Medicaid program, which has paid for their daughter’s necessary medical care, must be reimbursed in excess of $500,000 from any amount that they may ultimately receive from the jury’s verdict.
The Indiana State Medical Association attempts to justify Indiana’s cap on damages in medical malpractice cases by stating on its website, “This cap helps keep insurance rates lower than rates in other states that do not have caps on damages (very few states do). In turn, more physicians can afford to practice in Indiana, and patients have access to the care they need.”
But what about the innocent victims of medical malpractice in Indiana who are the most seriously harmed as a result of medical negligence? Why should those most harmed by medical malpractice be the most harmed by the special financial protections granted to Indiana’s medical elite, who fail to accept personal responsibility for their incompetence, carelessness, negligence, or their failure to provide at least the minimum level of medical care that the standard of care required?
Should the government intervene in private matters between patients and physicians by shielding negligent health care providers, who are in the sole position to insure that they comply with the required standard of care, at the expense of their victims who are left uncompensated for the full losses and harms they suffered? Should taxpayers have to foot the medical bills and the caregiver expenses incurred by the most catastrophically injured medical malpractice victims instead of the wrongdoers?
If you or a family member may be the victim of medical negligence committed by a physician in the United States, you should promptly find a local medical malpractice lawyer 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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