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Serious Examples of Medical Malpractice Cases

Medical malpractice might sound like something you expect to see on a TV show, but thousands of people suffer serious injuries every year because medical practitioners make serious errors of judgment. Over 3 billion dollars in malpractice settlements were paid out in 2012 alone. This should give you some perspective on the importance of this issue.

We’ve gathered three perfect examples of malpractice for this blog post because we know you might be wondering whether your case is legitimate or not. We’re sure that after reading these examples, you’ll want to discuss the matter further with us. Johnson & Biscone specialize in pharmaceutical litigation for our Oklahoma clients and have a strong focus on success malpractice lawsuits.

#1 Failure to Diagnose Breast Cancer

In April 2002, a 60-year-old woman noticed a small lump in her right breast. She was referred for a mammogram, but the initial results showed no sign of malignancy. Ultrasound tests were also performed, but no tumors were found. The examining doctor did not recommend any further testing, even though her breast had an obvious abnormality.

The patient returned for a further breast examination in February 2006, by which stage her nipple was found to be inverted and the lump in her right breast was now larger. The attending doctor ordered an immediate mammogram, which then found signs of malignancy in the tissue of the right breast.

The plaintiff attended the doctor again in March 2006, but no physical examination was performed, and there were no obvious changes from previous mammograms or ultrasounds. The patient’s medical records were then updated to indicate the presence of a benign mass even though the medical staff didn’t perform a biopsy.

In November 2006, the plaintiff began to complain of severe headaches, but was diagnosed with a sinus infection. By January 2007 the patient required medical examination again, but this time it was noted that one of her eyes was drooping, and the lymph nodes in her neck were enlarged. An MRI scan revealed abnormalities in the plaintiff’s brain, but no further medical action was taken at that time.

The plaintiff underwent a further breast MRI in February 2007, and by now both breasts displayed abnormalities. A biopsy of both breasts was then performed, after which the patient was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic breast cancer.

The defendants claimed the plaintiff was cared for properly throughout the entire process, and if she had returned prior to 2006 the breast cancer would have been detected in time. The case was settled in favor of the plaintiff for the sum of $500,000.

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#2 Prozac Prescription Leads to Teen Suicide

The patient was 15 years old when, in January 2006, they attended a clinic, complaining of vomiting, nausea and abdominal pain. The defendant nurse who cared for the patient prescribed anti-nausea treatment and also prescribed Prozac on a pre-signed prescription form.

Three weeks after the visit to the clinic, the plaintiff attempted suicide by hanging herself. Her mother and sibling discovered her, and she was rushed to the nearest ER. Unfortunately she had suffered catastrophic brain damage from the attempted suicide. This left her in a vegetative state, requiring 24/7 care until she died three years later.

The plaintiff’s family pursued the case on the basis that Prozac was prescribed for an adolescent who had displayed no signs of clinical depression. The decedent had never been diagnosed with any form of depression in the past. The FDA had previously issued warnings against prescribing Prozac for teenagers.

The defendant claimed that her examination had indicated the presence of depression and that the plaintiff’s suicide attempted followed a break-up with her boyfriend and emotional issues with her family.

The court awarded the decedents family the sum of $3,459,892.

#3 Retained Sponge After C-Section

The plaintiff underwent a Cesarean Section procedure in March 2004 while giving birth. Two nurses assisted the attending obstetrician during the procedure, after which they both reported a correct sponge count.

The patient complained of significant pain immediately after the procedure, but this pain then eased during the following week. Although the significant pain had eased, the patient still complained of pain for several weeks after the procedure. All complaints by the patients were dismissed by the obstetrician without any further examination.

Ten weeks later the obstetrician ordered a CT scan, which found a retained sponge, and that the plaintiff’s bowel was now also perforated. The obstetrician then attempted to remove the sponge during a surgical procedure, but it had already attached itself to the patient’s bowel. Colorectal surgeons were then engaged to remove the sponge, which required two small portions of the patient’s bowel to be removed.

Despite the additional medical intervention, the plaintiff continued to suffer pain.

During the case, the nurses blamed the attending obstetrician for failing to keep count of the sponges and for not noticing a sponge was still inside the patient.

The jury found in favor of the plaintiff, and against the nurses, but not the obstetrician. The sum awarded was $525,000.

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