On October 11, 2019, after about three hours of deliberations, a Pennsylvania medical malpractice jury returned its verdict in favor of the Pennsylvania medical malpractice wrongful death plaintiffs in the amount of $4.7 million against a primary care physician who failed to timely diagnose his patient’s infection that ultimately resulted in the patient’s death. The jury awarded the man’s estate $356,286 in past loss of earnings and earning capacity and $60,715 in future loss of earnings and earning capacity.
The Pennsylvania medical malpractice wrongful death jury also awarded the man’s wife $364,286 in past loss of contributions, $60,715 in future loss of contributions, $2,220,588 in past noneconomic losses, and $1,544,411 in future noneconomic losses. While the jury was deliberating, the defense offered $2 million to settle the case and the parties ultimately agreed to a high-low agreement of $1 million/$4 million (i.e., the plaintiff would receive $1 million if there was a defense verdict or if there was a verdict in favor of the plaintiffs in an amount equal to or less than $1 million; the plaintiffs would receive the amount of the jury verdict if it was between $1 million and $4 million; or the plaintiffs would receive $4 million in the event the jury awarded in excess of $4 million).
The 58-year-old man had gone to his primary care physician on November 25, 2009, complaining of severe back pain that he rated 10 out of 10. He also complained that he had shaking chills and sweating. The primary care physician prescribed Percocet and ordered a plain film X-ray of his lumbar spine, but did not order any other imaging studies. A couple of days later, the man’s wife advised the primary care physician that her husband continued to have the same symptoms but also had developed headaches and memory loss. The primary care physician’s response was to increase the dosage of Percocet but not to arrange for further medical testing or to have her husband return for an office visit.
The man went to a hospital emergency room on November 27, 2009, where he had a head CT scan but not an MRI of his spine despite lab tests that showed an elevated white blood cell count, hyponatremia, and hypocalcemia. MRIs of the man’s brain and cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine were not taken until the next morning and not read by a radiologist until the afternoon. The MRIs showed a right-sided paraspinal abscess and lumbar epidural abscess, as well as severe meningitis with left frontal epidural abscess, obstructive hydrocephalus, enlarged ventricles, and multiple areas of ischemia.
Due to the delay in diagnosis and treatment, the man was too unstable to undergo an excision and drainage of the abscess and he subsequently lost all cerebral function and died on December 1, 2009.
The Pennsylvania medical malpractice jury found only the defendant primary care physician liable, and found in favor of the other defendants.
If you or a loved one suffered a serious injury (or worse) as a result of medical negligence in Pennsylvania or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a Pennsylvania medical malpractice lawyer, or a 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.
Visit our website or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959 to be connected with medical malpractice attorneys in your state who may assist you.
Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.