A Rhode Island hospital has been ordered to pay $25 million in a medical malpractice lawsuit. It is the state’s largest such verdict against a hospital in a case involving medical negligence. The verdict was handed down by a jury against the Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, and amounts to $25.6 million. The lawsuit was filed by a couple who claimed damages for the man who had suffered severe brain damage as a result of the hospital’s negligent care.
The man had visited the hospital in 2009 after a head injury. That was the beginning of his nightmare. The man claimed in his lawsuit, that hospital personnel failed to diagnose his injury properly, and failed to conduct all the required diagnostic tests that should have been performed in his case. In addition, the man charged that the hospital personnel failed to communicate and inform other staff members within the hospital about his condition. As a result, the man suffered severe brain swelling, which ultimately led to permanent brain damage.
He now has trouble with vision and communication. He needs permanent long-term care and has major cognitive difficulties. He is mainly confined to a wheelchair, and has difficulty performing the most routine tasks, like looking after himself or feeding himself. His permanent impairment resulted in a court ordering his wife to be his legal guardian.
The man and his wife filed a lawsuit which included a claim by his wife. The jury awarded the man $15 million for pain and suffering, and $5 million for medical expenses, as well as $5 million for his wife. The hospital has admitted that it will not appeal the verdict. It has already issued an apology for the negligence in this case, and has announced that it is in the process of implementing changes, to prevent a recurrence of such negligence.
Like many cases of hospital medical malpractice, the negligence rarely occurs at one point in time. Typically, hospital negligence occurs because systems fail rather than individuals. In fact, a series of failures led to this man’s permanent injuries. The negligence here did not occur in just one department in the hospital, but involved staff members across departments. What really stands out in this case is the extent of the negligence, and also that the negligence occurred within a very short period of time. Much of this negligence occurred within a period of 40 hours after the injury.
Patients trust that all hospital employees are working at their best each and every moment of the day. It is understandable that one person may make a mistake but there must be systems in place to catch that error, communicate appropriately, and take urgent action when required.
This case is a prime example of the importance of systems that must be in place to ensure proper communication is occurring between staff and departments. There must be careful consideration given to each and every patient who walks through the Emergency Department doors.
If you or a loved one has been injured or died because of a healthcare system failure or medical negligence, the Indiana medical malpractice attorneys at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson & Kennedy, LLP are ready to help. They represent persons injured as a result of medical negligence across Indiana. Call today.