October 18, 2019

An Illinois Appellate Court (First District Second Division) has affirmed a zero damages medical malpractice verdict even though the Illinois medical malpractice jury determined that the defendant nurse was negligent in injecting the plaintiff with another patient’s allergy medicine after which the plaintiff suffered a “mild” anaphylactic reaction (but not anaphylactic shock).

The Illinois Appellate Court stated in its Order issued on September 17, 2019, in part: “[The defendant nurse] acknowledged her mistake in injecting [the plaintiff] with medication from the wrong vials and the jury found her negligent. Based on the jury’s award of zero damages, we can logically conclude that the jury found that [the plaintiff] did not sustain any damages or the damages for pain and suffering and loss of a normal life resulting from [the defendant nurse’s] negligence were insignificant and not compensable.”

The Illinois Appellate Court explained: “The jury heard testimony at trial that [the plaintiff] sustained an anaphylactic reaction at the allergy clinic, but her symptoms had already subsided by the time she arrived at the emergency room. In fact, while [the plaintiff] was in the emergency room, she assessed her pain level at zero. After [the plaintiff] arrived at the emergency room, her vital signs were within the normal range and remained normal throughout her hospitalization. Although [the plaintiff’s] oxygen saturation rate was 88% while at the allergy clinic, reliability of that reading was questionable due to nail polish interference, and her oxygen saturation rate was normal in the emergency room and during her two day hospitalization. It was undisputed that [the plaintiff] was admitted overnight on January 7 and January 8 only for observation to rule out late phase anaphylaxis and not for active treatment. The jury also heard testimony that [the plaintiff’s] anaphylactic reaction was characterized as mild to moderate, and she never suffered from anaphylactic shock. To the extent that the jury heard conflicting testimony regarding the severity of [the plaintiff’s] allergic reaction, it was the jury’s function as the trier of fact to resolve the conflict and accept one opinion over another.”

“[The plaintiff] asserts that she was anxious, nervous, and scared during her hospital admission because she had never been admitted as a hospital patient before this incident. The jury was entitled to reject that notion, particularly given that she was a licensed psychiatrist, who completed her residency in a hospital and who worked on the campus of a hospital. [The plaintiff] acknowledges on appeal that she was the only witness who testified regarding her pain and suffering and loss of a normal life. It was within the jury’s discretion to reject [the plaintiff’s] subjective testimony and find her testimony regarding pain and suffering and loss of a normal life unconvincing, particularly in light of the other testimony that her allergic reaction symptoms had essentially subsided by the time she arrived in the emergency room and she was symptom-free at discharge.”

The Illinois Appellate Court held: “Since the evidence adduced at trial arguably showed that [the plaintiff] sustained no pain and suffering or loss of a normal life damages or such damages were too temporary and minimal to warrant compensation, the jury’s verdict finding [the defendant nurse] negligent, but awarding zero damages was not against the manifest weight of the evidence … and there was no evidence supporting a finding that verdict was internally inconsistent or compromised.”

Source Griffin v. Marshall, 2019 IL App (1st) 181578-U.

If you or a loved one suffered harm as a result of nursing negligence in Illinois or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a medical malpractice lawyer in Illinois or in your state who may investigate your nursing malpractice claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a medical malpractice case against a nurse, if appropriate.

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