On April 28, 2016, Hugh Donaghue of Donaghue & Labrum won a medical malpractice suit on behalf of Darlene Hill of Swarthmore, PA, who was awarded nearly 6 million dollars in damages for the wrongful removal of her appendix. Both Taylor Hospital in Delaware County and South East Radiology were found to be liable for the error, which resulted in chronic nerve damage and lost wages for the victim.
Despite technological improvements, medical malpractice still happens in hospitals and other medical outposts all over the U.S. Almost 100,000 Americans die each year due to medical errors resulting from negligence. Misdiagnosis, birth injury, and anesthetic blunders are some of the most common and potentially catastrophic examples of medical malpractice.
In Pennsylvania, over 1,500 medical malpractice suits were filed in civil courts in 2013, capping a steady decline over the course of a decade. However, medical malpractice is still a serious issue with devastating consequences.
Medical Malpractice Case Hill vs. Crozer-Keystone Health Systems
On December 15, 2009, Darlene Hill was suffering from acute abdominal pain, so she went to the emergency room at Taylor Hospital and had a CT scan taken. The radiologist who reviewed her x-ray slides determined that either her appendix or bowel had been perforated, and that an appendectomy must be performed in order to save her life.
Unfortunately, the slides did not belong to Hill but to another patient. When the incident was investigated further, the oversight on the part of the radiologist was made glaringly obvious: if Hill’s medical history had been properly reviewed, it would have shown that her gallbladder had been removed years before; the patient whose slides indicated a failing appendix still had their gallbladder intact. If this discrepancy had been observed, the mix-up would have been avoided, and Hill would not have undergone the procedure.
Furthermore, despite performing an exploratory surgery that found that Hill had none of the reported abnormalities, the surgeon went ahead and removed her appendix. He became aware of his mistake five months later, but by then the damage had been done.
A year following her surgery, Hill returned to the hospital due to post-operative pain and was informed of the mistake. She continues to suffer from neuropathic pain syndrome and complex regional pain syndrome, and has to undergo lifelong pain management and treatment. In 2012 she was found to be completely disabled.
Medical Malpractice Compensation in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania there is no cap on how much compensatory and non-economic damages a victim can be awarded. In fact, Pennsylvania pays over $300 million each year to medical malpractice victims according to payouts recorded by the National Practitioner Data Bank. The report by Diederich Healthcare also mentions that Pennsylvania is the third highest state per capita in the amount of payouts to victims, behind only New York and Massachusetts. This is good news for those living in PA with a legitimate medical negligence claim. Victims often suffer pain, emotional trauma and work impairment for the rest of their lives and are advised to retain the services of experienced medical malpractice attorneys in order to seek a settlement that will allow them to move forward and improve their quality of life.
Medical malpractice is complex territory to navigate and it’s crucial for victims to contact a lawyer as soon as possible in order to receive the best possible treatment of their case. The more time that passes between the incident of negligence and the engagement of a lawyer on the victim’s behalf, the more difficult the burden of proof is for the plaintiff.
Even when medical negligence is shown to have transpired, the lawyer must prove that the injuries the victim sustained were in fact directly linked to medical error. In addition, the statute of limitations allows the victim only seven years following the occurrence of the negligent act to file a lawsuit.
A Medical Negligence Victory in Delaware County
After exposing the negligence of both Taylor Hospital of the Crozer-Keystone Health System and South East Radiology, Donaghue & Labrum, in conjunction with Francis J. Curran of the Curran Firm, was able to obtain a verdict that ensured a just compensation for the victim. A Delaware County jury found Crozer-Keystone Health System, which had settled pre-trial, to be 80 percent liable, and South East Radiology to be 20 percent liable.
The defense argued that it is extremely rare for one patient’s x-ray slides to be mixed up with another’s, and that the radiologist was within reason to believe that the slides he was looking at were actually Hill’s. In addition, the defense maintained that the radiologist upheld the standard of care by alerting the surgeon of Hill’s life-threatening situation.
But in this case, it was apparent to the jury that a series of blunders were made on the part of both the hospital and the radiology firm that resulted in a lifetime of pain and suffering for the victim. Thankfully, the professionals at Donaghue & Labrum were able to ensure that justice was served.
The Best Medical Malpractice Attorneys
If you suspect that either you or a loved one is a victim of medical malpractice, contact one of the experienced lawyers at Donaghue & Labrum immediately for a free consultation. We are committed to providing the best possible legal assistance. We are here to help you receive the compensation you deserve.