On October 23, 2015, a 12-person Pennsylvania medical malpractice jury found in favor of the plaintiffs in the amount of $2.2 million ($300,000 for past pain and suffering, $1.7 million for future pain and suffering, and $200,000 for the injured party’s wife, for her loss of consortium claim) in a Pennsylvania medical malpractice lawsuit filed against three physicians in which the plaintiffs claimed only noneconomic damages (no claim was made for medical expenses or loss of wages/earnings).
After five days of testimony on behalf of the plaintiff and two days of testimony on behalf of the defendants during a nearly two-week trial, the Pennsylvania medical malpractice jury determined that the defendant attending physician at a local Pennsylvania hospital was 50% responsible for the plaintiff’s paraplegia, the first physician who treated the plaintiff in the emergency room was 30% responsible for the man’s avoidable permanent injuries, and the off-site radiologist who reviewed the man’s x-rays was 20% responsible.
The plaintiff had been logging in the woods in 2012 when a 500-pound treetop fell onto his back. The ambulance personnel who responded to the scene immobilized the man on a backboard to prevent any further injury to his back while being transported to the hospital. At the hospital, he was removed from the backboard and placed on the x-ray table for x-rays of his entire back. Due to his excruciating pain, he was unable to be placed in the appropriate position for x-rays of his entire thoracic spine; x-rays of the area below where the treetop had struck him were taken. Despite the availability of a CT scanner just down the hall from where his x-rays were taken, the hospital staff failed to wheel him down for a CT scan.
In was not until six hours later that the defendant radiologist dictated her report regarding the man’s x-rays. The plaintiffs faulted the radiologist for failing to immediately contact the hospital to advise that the man was at a high-risk of having sustained a serious spine injury, failing to recommend a CT scan, and for failing to advise that the man remain immobilized until he could be properly cleared of a potential spinal injury.
The plaintiff remained in the local hospital for three days before being discharged with a diagnosis of a broken back and broken ribs. He remained in excruciating pain while at home for two days before he was transported by air to a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania hospital. The delay in timely and appropriate diagnosis and the delay in timely and appropriate treatment resulted in the man becoming a paraplegic.
The surgeon who operated on the man at the Pittsburgh hospital testified during the medical malpractice trial that had the patient been kept immobilized and adequate images of his spine been obtained followed by proper medical care, the man would not have suffered paraplegia and he would have been able to walk.
The plaintiff spent two months receiving inpatient rehabilitation for a life-threatening blood infection and other complications, and learning how to perform daily tasks because he is paralyzed from the chest down. After the Pennsylvania medical malpractice jury found in his favor, the now 50-year-old plaintiff stated that his life now is like living in a three-foot by three-foot prison cell.
If you may have been injured due to medical malpractice in Pennsylvania or in another state in the U.S., you should promptly seek the legal advice of a Pennsylvania medical malpractice attorney or a medical malpractice attorney in your state who may investigate your medical negligence claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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