On February 17, 2017, a New Jersey medical malpractice jury awarded a now 12-year-old child $45 million against two emergency room physicians for their failure to diagnose his femur fracture in the then 2-month-old infant that was caused by physical abuse by his father.
The New Jersey medical malpractice lawsuit brought by the child’s mother on his behalf against the physicians and the hospital alleged that the defendants breached the standard of care in their failure to diagnose the fracture that led to the child being discharged home where the father’s abuse of the child weeks later resulted in the child suffering brain damage with severe cognitive deficits.
The father was named as a third-party defendant by the other defendants and the New Jersey medical malpractice jury found him to be 60% liable for the verdict, and the emergency room physicians to be 35% and 5% liable, respectively. Therefore, the father, who subsequently was sentenced to eight years in prison for child abuse, is responsible for $27 million of the New Jersey medical malpractice verdict, and the two defendant emergency room physicians are responsible for $15.75 million and $2.25 million, respectively.
The Alleged Underlying Facts
On November 27, 2005, the plaintiff brought her two-month-old infant to the defendant hospital’s emergency room and told one of the defendant emergency room physicians that her child was unable to straighten his leg and would cry when his leg was touched. The defendant physician ordered an x-ray that was read by a radiologist from his home computer and reported that there was no definitive fracture. The child was discharged to home.
The plaintiff’s medical malpractice lawyer told the jury that viewing the x-ray remotely on a home computer was like looking through a dirty window. The radiologist was not a party to the New Jersey medical malpractice lawsuit.
The next morning, the hospital’s attending radiologist read the x-ray and reported that it showed a possible fracture and recommended additional x-rays. The attending radiologist’s report was allegedly transmitted to the other defendant emergency room physician, who was the attending emergency room physician, who claimed that she never received the x-ray report. Hospital policy required that the attending emergency room physician contact the child’s parents to arrange for additional testing but the parents were not contacted. There was no contact with the family until December 17, 2005, when the child was brought to the hospital’s emergency room due to seizures and altered mental state. The infant was then diagnosed with a skull fracture, cranial bleeding, as well as the femur fracture.
The defendant emergency room physicians denied at trial that they had deviated from the standard of care and argued to the jury that if the mother was unaware of the abuse, how could they know about the father’s abuse of the child?
If you or a family member suffered serious injury (or worse) as a result of emergency room misdiagnosis in New Jersey or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a local medical malpractice lawyer in your state who may investigate your emergency room medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your family member in a medical malpractice case against the hospital and/or the emergency room physician, if appropriate.
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