A German court on June 23, 2021 ordered Hamburg-Eppendorf University Clinic to pay a now 23-year-old man $535,000 in compensation for pain and suffering, and to pay all future medical expenses, due to a surgeon’s delay in operating on his brain tumor because of a medical staff shortage during the Easter holiday. The man was a 13-year-old schoolboy when his brain tumor bled out on Easter Sunday at 8.45 a.m., after which he was no longer responsive and had to be ventilated. He suffered severe disability as a result.
On April 20, 2011, the teenager was admitted to Altona Children’s Hospital in Germany after an MRI scan ordered by a private radiologist showed a seven-centimeter diameter tumor. The radiologist recommended an “immediate operation, before Easter” because the teenager had been suffering severe headaches and nausea since February 2011. At Altona Children’s Hospital, specialists confirmed the diagnosis and the teenager was admitted to the Hamburg-Eppendorf University Clinic on April 21, 2011.
Physicians at Hamburg-Eppendorf University Clinic, however, did not consider that surgery was urgently needed and scheduled the surgery for several days after Easter due to a lack of medical staff during the Easter holiday. Unfortunately, the delay in surgery led to the Easter Sunday bleed, at which time the teenager was admitted to the intensive care unit where he was treated for two months followed by eleven months of rehab.
The man’s father filed the medical malpractice lawsuit in 2017 after seven experts concluded that his son’s complications were a result of medical errors by the physicians caring for his son. In ordering that compensation be paid, the German court stated, “it can be assumed that the plaintiff would have been spared any remaining neurological failures in the case of a standard treatment, in particular, a brain tumor operation on 23 April 2011, at the latest.”
The plaintiff’s German medical malpractice lawyer stated after the court ordered compensation, “The sum represents a compensation for all the pain and the suffering. When I worked for a U.S. medical law firm in San Francisco, I was able to compare the legal systems. It is no secret that compensation for pain and suffering in the USA is often colossal, compared to the German standard. Even if financial compensation alone cannot bring you back to health and, especially in particularly tragic cases, can only be a poor consolation, one should not forego certain and fair claims without a fight.”
A spokesperson from the university clinic stated, “The [Hamburg-Eppendorf University Clinic] does not want to comment on the ongoing proceedings.” The university clinic has the right to file an appeal.
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