On December 21, 2015, a Washington State medical malpractice jury awarded a 56-year-old former carpenter and his wife $1.57 million in their medical malpractice case against a local hospital that they claimed was negligent in failing to timely diagnose the husband’s serious medical complication following an arm injury suffered after falling sixteen feet from a scaffolding onto a concrete surface while working on February 2, 2011.
The Washington medical malpractice jury awarded the husband $1.3 million for his economic and noneconomic damages and $275,000 to his wife for her noneconomic damages. Two days after the verdict, the defendant hospital announced that it would not be appealing the verdict despite disagreeing with the Washington medical malpractice jury’s determination that it had unreasonably delayed in diagnosing the husband’s injuries.
The plaintiffs’ medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that the husband was not seen by a physician while in the defendant hospital for a six and a half hour period during the night of February 3 and into the morning of February 4, 2011, despite having significant pain and his wife pleading for someone to help her husband. Unbeknownst to the plaintiffs at that time, the man was developing compartment syndrome in his left arm caused by swelling that was compressing the blood vessels and other tissues and restricting the blood flow in his left arm. Compartment syndrome is a serious condition that must be diagnosed quickly and treated as an emergency in order to prevent serious and permanent injury to the effected limb.
The plaintiffs alleged that the delay in care and treatment led to the man having a severely deformed left arm that has caused him to not be able to perform his duties as a carpenter (he cannot effectively grasp items with his left hand).
The plaintiffs testified during trial that the wife was concerned about her husband’s condition and requested that the doctor examine her husband at 7:45 p.m. on February 3, 2011. A first-year resident in orthopedics did not examine the man until 2:24 a.m. on February 4 but then failed to diagnose the man’s developing compartment syndrome. It was not until 7:00 a.m. on February 4 that a supervising physician examined the man and found that his left hand was completely numb. And it was not until 9:00 a.m. that an incision was made to relieve the increasing pressure within the man’s left arm.
The plaintiffs’ Washington medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that the first-year resident was negligent in failing to properly respond to the man’s complaints of pain and that the defendant hospital was negligent in failing to properly train and supervise its orthopedic residents (the plaintiffs alleged that the defendant hospital relied on first-year residents to provide orthopedic trauma service coverage during the night that required the residents to care for twenty to sixty patients at a time and to work shifts in excess of twenty-four hours).
The defendant hospital denied that the hours worked by its residents, and, in particular, the hours worked by the resident who was assigned to the man’s care during the night of February 3 to 4, led to the man’s injuries and the defendant hospital further argued that the care provided by the resident was within the acceptable standard of care.
If you or a loved one suffered serious harm in Washington State due to medical negligence, you should promptly find a Washington medical malpractice lawyer who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a Washington State medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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