Texas Jury Holds Hospital Responsible For Willful And Wanton Negligence
A Dallas County jury awarded a woman $10 million after they found a Texas hospital waited hours before performing a necessary spinal surgery. By the time the surgery was performed, the woman had suffered permanent paralysis.
According to the lawsuit, the woman went to her pain management doctor for an epidural injection of steroids. The woman told her doctor she wanted the injection because she had to drive to Ohio for a funeral.
As the epidural was delivered, the nurse nicked a blood vessel causing hemorrhaging. A hemorrhage of this sort can present an extreme risk to a patient if it is not addressed immediately. However, the pain management center waited over an hour before calling an ambulance.
Further malpractice occurred once the woman reached the hospital. Within 10 minutes of the woman’s arrival, a STAT MRI was ordered. The MRI should have been conducted immediately, but it took another hour and a half before the MRI was conducted. The woman had been at the hospital for over 5 hours before the MRI was conducted. By then, she had sustained permanent paralysis.
Treatment delays in medical malpractice lawsuits
Treatment delays are actionable in a medical malpractice lawsuit so long as the delay is caused by the actions of the defendant. In this case, the delays were caused by a failure to communicate the urgency of the patient’s condition in a manner that inspired action. The patient was left for hours in excruciating pain, and when that was over, she was paralyzed from the chest down. Had the hospital employed the prevailing standard of care, the woman would likely still have the use of her legs.
The doctor who performed the epidural settled his lawsuit independently of the allegations made against the hospital. The hospital argued that the woman was paralyzed by the time she got there. This is an interesting argument. There’s no way to prove that she wasn’t, so how can the plaintiffs make their case?
Personal injury lawsuits are not like criminal cases where you have to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil suit, the standard of proof is the preponderance of the evidence or more likely than not. In this case, the defense was within the realm of possibility, not the realm of likelihood. Understanding that mistakes like this occur, and are treatable when addressed immediately, likely led the jury to reject the defendant’s argument.
The defendant likely took the case to trial because the plaintiffs were asking for a lot of money. A defendant is more likely to roll the dice in front of a jury when the settlement figure is very high. Hence why many of the jury awards you see in the news are very high. High awards are more likely to go before juries.
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