On April 9, 2021, a Nevada medical malpractice jury returned its verdict in favor of the plaintiff in the amount of $29.5 million, which included $15 million in compensatory damages for past and future pain and suffering, $12.5 million for future medical expenses, and $2 million for the plaintiff’s loss of income. The three-week trial was conducted at the Las Vegas Convention Center where social distancing was enforced and each juror had their own computer monitor to observe witnesses. The parties’ attorneys were required to wear masks during the trial. The jury engaged in only three hours of deliberations before returning its sizable verdict.
The Underlying Facts
The plaintiff, who has a peanut allergy, was working as a model at a fashion convention in 2013 when she ate ice cream that contained peanut butter, causing a severe anaphylactic reaction. An ambulance owned by the defendant, MedicWest Ambulance Inc., was dispatched and treated the plaintiff with an intramuscular dose of epinephrine, which was ineffective, causing the plaintiff to suffer brain damage and quadriplegia due to the lack of oxygen to her brain. The plaintiff’s Nevada medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that state regulations required the ambulance to carry intravenous epinephrine to treat patients in anaphylactic shock.
The plaintiff’s Nevada medical malpractice lawyer stated after the verdict, “Corporations are putting their profits before patients and at some point it does have to stop. I found that [MedicWest Ambulance Inc. was] shorting all kinds of medications, dextrose, activated charcoal, even shorting aspirin in the bags. She walked into the perfect storm of medics who were not trained to take [treatment] seriously and a company that never took it seriously. If this verdict is not enough for them, what will be?”
A Harvard Health Blog entitled “Epinephrine is the only effective treatment for anaphylaxis” states:
Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can potentially lead to death if not promptly treated. Allergic reactions typically begin suddenly after exposure to an allergen, which may be a food, medication, insect sting, or another trigger. Anaphylaxis can occur in anyone at any time; it can sometimes be triggered by allergens that a person has only had mild reactions to in the past — or to which they have never reacted to before.
A mild allergic reaction may consist of hives, itching, flushing, swelling of the lips or tongue, or some combination of these. However, throat swelling or tightening, trouble breathing, wheezing, shortness of breath, cough, lightheadedness, fainting, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or a sense of impending doom, are all symptoms of anaphylaxis. The symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction can vary from one episode to the next, even in the same individual.
It is important to quickly recognize anaphylaxis so it can be promptly treated with epinephrine, the first-line treatment for anaphylaxis. Epinephrine is a hormone made by the adrenal glands. It works within minutes to prevent progression and reverse the symptoms of anaphylaxis … Epinephrine should be administered without delay if there is any concern or suspicion of anaphylaxis, because the risk of an untreated severe allergic reaction outweighs the risk of inappropriately receiving epinephrine.
Anyone who has been treated with epinephrine after an anaphylactic reaction should be transported by ambulance to an emergency room, where they will continue to be monitored. This is because some people who have had an anaphylactic reaction may have protracted anaphylaxis, with symptoms lasting several hours (or possibly days). Others may have biphasic anaphylaxis, which is a recurrence of symptoms several hours (or possibly days) after symptoms resolve, even without further exposure to the allergic trigger. For both protracted and biphasic anaphylactic reactions, the first-line treatment remains epinephrine. Biphasic reactions can occur up to three days after the initial anaphylactic reaction, which means you may develop symptoms even after being discharged from the emergency room … Anyone who has had anaphylaxis is at increased risk of experiencing anaphylaxis again.
If you or a loved one suffered serious harm as a result of ambulance negligence in Nevada or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a Nevada medical malpractice lawyer, or a medical malpractice lawyer in your state, who may investigate your ambulance malpractice claim for you and represent you or your loved one in an ambulance malpractice case, if appropriate.
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