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Doctor and nurse failures leads to $5 million verdict

One of the most common causes of medical malpractice in San Diego hospitals is poor communications between members of the health care team. A recent medical malpractice verdict from another state provides dramatic proof.

The patient fractured his hip when he fell from the back of a work truck. The orthopedic surgeon who examined him recommended the implantation of an artificial hip.

The first surgery date was postponed for a few days. During the delay, the patient suffered an aspiration event that was not immediately detected. During the next 12 hours, the patient developed a fever that eventually resulted in tachycardia, a heart malfunction and hypoxia, a drop in the oxygen reaching body tissues.

According to evidence at trial, the orthopedic surgeon ignored the suggestion of a treating nurse that he review the patient's pulmonary situation and order a pulmonary consultation before operating. The surgeon rejected this advice, and the surgery went forward. The patient was given a spinal anesthesia. His lung condition deteriorated after the surgery, requiring that he be moved to the intensive care unit. He finally died in October if 2007 at 57.

The man's family commenced a wrongful death lawsuit predicated on the malpractice of the surgeon, his medical practice and the hospital. All parties, but the surgeon and his medical practice, settled the claims against them prior to trial.

The jury returned a verdict against the physician and his practice for $5.1 million, including $2 million for each children for loss of companionship and comfort. The award also included nearly $500,000 in lost earnings, $400,000 for pain and suffering and nearly $70,000 for related damages.

Anyone who has suffered an injury or lost a loved one because a physician may have ignored the advice of his staff should consult a lawyer experienced in medical malpractice claims. A knowledgeable attorney can provide an analysis of the facts of the case and an estimate of the likelihood of recovering damages for medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering.

Source: The Legal Intelligencer, "Mercer County Jury Awards $5M in Med Mal Death Case," Max Mitchell, July 25, 2017

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