A Pennsylvania medical malpractice jury returned its verdict in favor of the plaintiffs on July 21, 2017 in an amount just over $5 million after a two-week trial, finding that the defendants’ medical negligence involving a man’s hip replacement surgery resulted in his death. The man had fractured his hip at work after falling off the back of a truck and was brought to the hospital, where his scheduled hip replacement surgery was bumped from September 7, 2007 for reasons unrelated to his medical condition.
Shortly after his surgery was bumped, the man suffered an unrecognized aspiration event while waiting for surgery. The man developed a fever that worsened over the next twelve hours and he developed tachycardia and hypoxia. The Pennsylvania medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit alleged that the standard of care required that the medical staff obtain a pulmonary consultation and that the man receive appropriate medical treatment before undergoing surgery, but the decision was made to go forward with the surgery during which the man was provided spinal anesthesia.
An x-ray of the man’s chest after surgery showed that his lung condition had deteriorated. The man was admitted to the hospital’s ICU where he was intubated and placed on a feeding tube. The 57-year-old man did not recover and died on October 8, 2007.
The Pennsylvania medical malpractice wrongful death jury determined that four of the medical malpractice defendants were partially responsible for the man’s death: the jury found that the defendant orthopedic surgeon and his medical practice were 60% liable for its verdict (the jury determined that the defendant orthopedic surgeon was 40% responsible and his medical practice was 20% responsible). The other medical malpractice defendants reportedly settled before trial.
The Pennsylvania medical malpractice jury determined that the man’s two adult children (both in their 30s) should receive $2 million each in compensatory damages for their loss of comfort, companionship, guidance, and tutelage due to their father’s death. The total medical malpractice verdict was in excess of $5 million (including $382,570 for past lost earnings, $116,220 for future lost earnings, $115,000 for loss of household services, $400,000 for pain and suffering, $60,000 for loss of life’s pleasures, $10,000 for embarrassment, and $10,000 for humiliation). Delay damages are expected to add $900,000 to the medical malpractice verdict.
The defendant orthopedic surgeon argued that he did not breach the standard of care, and that the man suffered fat embolism syndrome as a result of his hip fracture that caused ARDS (adult respiratory distress syndrome) that was responsible for his death (the plaintiffs’ medical malpractice experts testified that the man’s death was due to aspiration pneumonia).
If you or a family member were injured (or worse) due to medical negligence in Pennsylvania, you should promptly find a Pennsylvania medical malpractice lawyer who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your family member in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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