A Minnesota medical malpractice jury returned its verdict in favor of the plaintiffs on August 28, 2017 for the death of a 30-year-old mother who had given birth to her first child in the hospital, and six days later died as a result of sepsis that was undiagnosed in the hospital’s emergency room.
The Minnesota medical malpractice wrongful death verdict was against a corporation that contracted to provide emergency room care at the hospital. The new mother went to the emergency room on August 24, 2013 (four days after giving birth to her son at the same hospital on August 20, 2013), complaining that she was in constant pain and her temperature was either 101.8 or 101.9 at that time.
Instead of staffing the emergency room with physicians, the for-profit emergency care company staffed the hospital emergency room at the time of the mother’s visit with a nurse practitioner who treated her. Blood tests in the emergency room showed that the mother’s platelet count was alarmingly low, which was a sign that the mother may have sepsis or suffering an inflammatory response. The nurse practitioner failed to contact the on-call OB about the mother’s low platelet count and instead diagnosed the mother with a urinary tract infection and discharged her to home.
About 15 hours later, the mother returned to the hospital emergency room with additional symptoms that resulted in physicians diagnosing the new mother’s sepsis. Treatment with antibiotics was started and an emergency hysterectomy was performed in attempts to save the mother’s life, but the new mother lost her battle to live and raise her newborn son; she died on August 26, 2013.
The Minnesota medical malpractice plaintiffs argued that the nurse practitioner had breached the standard of care and that had the proper diagnosis been timely made, proper medical treatment would have been timely administered and the new mother’s life would have been saved. The plaintiffs’ theory during the Minnesota medical malpractice trial was that the new mother’s sepsis began as endometritis but because it was not timely or properly treated, it led to her death. The defense argued that the mother died from necrotizing fasciitis, but that argument was disputed by the mother’s treating surgeon. The defense stipulated to medical negligence but argued that any delay in admitting the mother to the hospital or any negligence by the nurse practitioner was not a direct cause of the mother’s death.
The Minnesota medical malpractice jury determined that the nurse practitioner was negligent and that her negligence directly caused the mother’s death. The Minnesota medical malpractice jury awarded compensatory damages in the total amount of $20.6 million: $500,000 for past lost earnings, $4 million for future lost earning capacity, $50,000 for past lost household services, $400,000 for future lost household services, $1.204 million for past loss of companionship, guidance, comfort and other pecuniary loss, and $14.446 million for future loss of companionship, guidance, comfort and other pecuniary .
This Minnesota medical malpractice verdict is thought to be the largest medical malpractice verdict in Minnesota.
If you or your baby suffered an injury during or after labor and/or delivery in Minnesota or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a medical malpractice lawyer in Minnesota or in your state who may investigate your medical negligence claim for you and represent you or your child in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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