On August 7, 2015, after an almost two-week medical malpractice trial and four hours of jury deliberations, a Pennsylvania medical malpractice jury returned its verdict in favor of the plaintiffs (husband and wife) and against two defendant physicians for the delayed diagnosis of the husband’s cervical abscess that resulted in his paralysis, awarding compensatory damages in the amount of $2.3 million for past and future noneconomic losses (pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life), more than $9 million for past and future medical expenses, close to $500,000 for past and future lost wages, and $500,000 for the wife’s loss of consortium claim.
The Alleged Underlying Facts
The plaintiff/husband arrived at a local hospital emergency room on June 17, 2011, complaining of left-sided neck pain and tingling in his left arm. He was admitted for observation overnight during which he developed a fever and his symptoms worsened. An infectious disease specialist evaluated the plaintiff and was concerned that the plaintiff may have a cervical epidural abscess, leading her to order an MRI of the man’s cervical spine.
Four hours after the cervical MRI was completed, a radiologist allegedly misinterpreted the study as showing no abscess or epidural collection. The following day, the plaintiff required emergency surgery to address a deep cervical abscess and there were concerns afterwards regarding spinal cord compression. The plaintiff developed paralysis in both arms and both legs and lost his bladder function and suffered sexual dysfunction, allegedly as a result of medical negligence. The defendants denied that they committed medical malpractice and they further argued that none of their actions would have made a difference in the plaintiff’s outcome.
The Pennsylvania medical malpractice jury assigned 67% responsibility for the plaintiffs’ injuries to the treating radiologist and 33% responsibility to the treating neurologist (other medical malpractice defendants had been dismissed from the lawsuit). The jury found the defendant infectious disease doctor, and two other defendants, not responsible for the plaintiffs’ injuries and damages. The plaintiffs called nine experts to testify on their behalf during trial and the defendants called twelve experts to testify on their behalf.
This Pennsylvania medical malpractice case is a prime example of how the alleged medical negligence of one medical provider in a chain of medical providers (in this case, the radiologist) can result in avoidable catastrophic harm, which is exacerbated by the medical negligence of another medical provider who also failed to provide proper medical care in compliance with the applicable standard of care.
If you or a loved one may have suffered serious injury (or worse) as a result of medical treatment in Pennsylvania or in another U.S. state, your injuries may be due to medical negligence and you should promptly find a local medical malpractice lawyer in Pennsylvania or in your U.S. state who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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