According to estimates, the safety of patients in the U.S. is sacrificed in hundreds of thousands of situations each year. Reports indicate that somewhere between 100,000 and 1 million avoidable deaths happen each year in hospitals located throughout the country, including those in Chicago. Even more serious injuries occur, leaving many hospital patients to question of the credibility of their physicians and nurses. In one such case that recently ended in a $130 million jury award, a nurse was supposedly guilty of failing to monitor a mother and her fetus.
Her alleged nursing error, which occurred in 2002, may have caused the child to a suffer serious brain injury. The young girl was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and, according to a decision by the jury, they agreed that she was trapped in her own body. An $8 million settlement was offered to the family but was rejected in favor of pursuing the case. According to the claims made against the hospital where the girl was born, an obstetric nurse failed to notice important signs that indicated fetal distress. That nurse then failed to take any actions to address these issues. The plaintiffs alleged the girl’s brain injury and cerebral palsy were caused by this negligence.
Many patients who have suffered injuries due to medical errors may be afraid of filing a lawsuit because they believe that major awards like this one cause medical costs to rise. This is where tort reform becomes a major debate. Many parties have fought hard to have malpractice awards limited and tort reform – usually in the form of setting a maximum award – is apparent in more than half of the states in the U.S. Studies have indicated, though, that this has not helped make the health care system less expensive. Individuals considering a lawsuit should not be concerned about contributing to the rising costs of the health care system – many other factors play into this and malpractice awards are just a tiny drop in the bucket.
Bloomberg, “$130 Million Verdicts Don’t Raise Medical Costs” Steve Cohen, Aug. 25, 2013
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Birth injury suit leads to $130 million award