10 Major Medical Negligence Lawsuits in U.S. History

medical negligence

Medical negligence has been one of the greatest causes of; legal disputes in the medical field. The law defines medical negligence as any omission or action by a medical professional that is taken in defiance of existing standard medical practices. The Legal Match also supports the same definition by shading more light on it as the negligent or unskilled treatment of a patient by a health professional. The professional may be a surgeon, pharmacist, nurse, physician, or health care employee. Join us as we examine the history of major medical negligence lawsuits in the United States.

Elements to Prove in a Medical Negligence Lawsuit

PubMed Central has given us the four elements that a patient or a party suing on medical malpractice grounds must prove.

  • One must prove that the doctor was under a legal duty to provide a certain form of treatment.
  • A branch of the legal duty by the medical practitioner not adhering to the set standards of operation or treatment.
  • There must be a causal relationship between the breach of duty and the alleged injury.
  • Experience of damage from the violations stated above. The damage may be the ones that result in financial loss or, at worse, loss of life.

Common Grounds for Launching Medical Negligence Lawsuits

The United States and experience the following, then be assured that you qualify to launch a medical negligence lawsuit.

1. Being wrongly diagnosed. The bone of contention in this situation is where another honest doctor of the same qualifications would determine the same medical problem.

2. Improper treatment. A medical practitioner giving the wrong prescription or failure by medical aids to give the right prescription. Sometimes it may include the prescription change by a medic or a pharmacist without the initial doctor’s knowledge.

3. Failure to inform a patient of known risks before taking a medical prescription or undergoing a medical procedure.

4. Failure to detect and recommend a treatment change in a case where an initial prescription has failed.

10. Lori Sandretto Versus Payson Healthcare Management & Dr. Charles Calkins, Delayed Diagnosis Leading to Permanent Injuries ($7.275 million)

In April 2008, Sandretto underwent surgery to take care of his torn meniscus after she sustained an injury on her knee after a fall. When the knee failed to heal, she went to the first respondent’s facility, and she was attended to by the second respondent, Doctor Calkins, who performed a second surgery that resulted in redness, swelling, and increased pain in the knee. On the other hand, the doctor’s assistant diagnosed Sandretto with a skin infection and prescribed her a skin antibiotic. The difference in diagnosis led to an infection that destroyed her knee tissue. Despite washouts and knee replacement, she could still experience chronic pain conditions that impaired her walking for the rest of her life. Being represented by Lloyd & Robinson, PLLC, she filed a case against the two parties and won a $7.275 million award against them.

9. Esmeralda Tripp Versus University of Arizona Health Network, Wrong Prescription Leading to Oxygen Deprivation ($12 million)

In one of the tragic events in Arizona, the respondent gave a physician who was only eight weeks the role of prescribing medication to Esmeralda Tripp, 41. The student prescribed Tripp with Profilnine, a blood clotting medication that medics should only give to patients under very special guidelines. It is mainly used in patients who need medical surgery or are in life-threatening situations. The medic did not inform the patients of the risks. Later, Tripp suffered a heart attack due to the deprivation of oxygen related to blood clotting. Being represented by Snyder & Wenner, P.C., the plaintiff won an award of $12 million.

8. Christopher Denton Versus Riverside Regional Medical & Dr. Edward Chu, Wrong Switching a Patient’s Medication ($25 million)

Being represented by Allen & Allen, the plaintiff got a $25 million reward against the respondents in 2013. The medical facility is located in Virginia. Denton used to have a 70 percent blockage in one of his arteries. When he went for further diagnosis at the Riverside Regional Medical Center, Dr. Edward Chu advised him that his heart’s arteries had no problem and that he could stop using heart medication. He recommended over-the-counter medication for Denton. A few months later, Denton suffered a serious heart attack that destroyed the functioning of his heart. As a result, he needed a heart transplant in the next five years and seven additional cardiac catheterizations.

7. Dale Whyte Versus Atlantic Surgical Center, Performance of Unnecessary Medical Procedure ($38.5 million)

The Sun Sentinel reported on May 2013 that a Florida jury had awarded the plaintiff $38.5 million to cover pain and suffering, medical expenses and loss companionship for the two his two daughters. The jury’s ruling was celebrated across Florida for playing a huge role in ensuring that medical facilities adhered to safe medical procedures. When Dale went to the Atlantic Surgical Center, the doctor who attended him performed a procedure famously known as ‘Manipulation Under Anesthesia.’ The doctor would later admit that the procedure was not only unethical but also was not necessary for this given Patient. The result was that Dale suffered brain injuries.

6. Billy Pierce Versus Texas Medical Center & Dr. Gary Boyd, Doctor’s Misdiagnosis Leading to a Comma ($43 million)

As you shall see in other parts of this article, Texas is one of the states with the highest number of medical malpractices in the United States, and there was a high chance that it would appear in this list. Billy Pierce went to the Texas Medical Center seeking medical attention. However, upon arriving at the hospital, he was first diagnosed by Doctor Gary Boyd, who was on probation. Dr. Boy had taken care of the Patient, which left him in an induced coma.

Luckily enough, another doctor stepped in and performed the correct diagnosis, and successfully undertook the surgery. Being represented by the Martin Walker Law PC, the 61-year-old Patient sued the hospital. It was slammed with a $43 million compensation and damages fee to Pierce. The court agreed with the plaintiff’s argument that the medical facility acted negligently by letting a doctor on probation undertake such a serious procedure.

5. Estate of Michael Jackson Versus Conrad Murray, Malicious Administration of Drugs to Control the Patient’s Sleeping Patterns ($100 million)

Michael Jackson, MJ, the undoubted King of Pop music, died from medical negligence. When looking at what amounts to medical negligence, the concept of deceit has been bought by many courts. To ensure that the musician slept well during his nights, the medical doctor of MJ injected him with Propofol with his knowledge and failed to advise him that the drug was a powerful anesthetic used in surgery. This was not only deceit but also a cause of making a client undertake a drug without their consent!

The result? MJ was pronounced dead on June 25, 2009. The revelations on the misuse of Propofol against MJ came out after an investigation and autopsy sponsored by the deceased’s family. In the process, Murray’s medical licenses in California and Texas were revoked, and besides being given a four-year prison sentence. Though it does not have the highest value, this is the most famous medical case in U.S history.

4. Estate of Faith DeGrand Versus Detroit Medical Center, Improper Performance of a Medical Surgery ($135 million)

Ten-year-old Faith DeGrand was taken to the Children’s Hospital of Detroit Medical Center in Michigan to undergo scoliosis surgery. Instead of undertaking the right surgery procedure, the responsible surgeon placed screws and rods in the Patient’s spine, hoping to tighten it. Instead, it compressed the spinal cord and caused numbness in Faith’s limbs. It took ten days before the surgeon removed the hardware, which caused permanent injury to the Patient. The result was that Faith became a person with quadriplegia who had permanent loss of bowel and bladder control. Being represented by the Fieger Law, the Patient was awarded $135 million. The case played a role in holding specialists accountable. Due to her underage, the Patient was represented by her parents, and she won the case in 2018.

3. Tiffany Applewhite Versus New York City, Patient Suffering Severe Brain Damage Due to Wrong Advice ($172 million)

When Tiffany Applewhite experienced an anaphylactic shock after being given a steroid injection by her home nurse to treat an eye infection, her mother called 911. The New York City’s EMTs from its Fire Department arrived sometime later but without the necessary equipment. Her mother was for the idea that they rushed her to the hospital, but the EMTs advised her to wait for another ambulance to arrive 20 minutes later. It gave her the necessary care upon arrival and took Apple to the hospital.

However, the Patient developed brain damage and paralysis due to waiting. In addition, she developed complications in talking and walking, and she could not take care of herself. The city protested the case, saying it had no legal obligation to provide; a ‘fast medical response’ position which the jury could not buy. The case affirmed that city emergency response services have a legal duty to ensure that they respond quickly and offer quality assistance.

2. Class Lawsuits Against Dr. Nikita Levy and Johns Hopkins Hospital, Secret Recording of Patients ($190 million)

Remember the four conditions we mentioned at our start on how to prove a medical negligence case. Sometimes, especially under common law, the word “damage” means medical loss or physical harm to the body and includes any infringement to any other right the doctor was supposed to uphold. Blue Grace Justice finds it necessary to have this case on this list.

In 2014, a jury ordered Johns Hopkins Hospital to pay more than 800 plaintiffs a swooping $190 million after the police established that one of its doctors, Nikita Levy working in the gynecology section, was guilty of video recording and taking photos of patients he attended. A police investigation revealed 1200 videos and 140 images it had unearthed in the doctor’s house. Upon the discovery, the doctor committed suicide the following day. The court shared between the affected parties $1,877 to $27,935.

1. Allan Navvaro Versus Franklin, Favata & Hulls & Austin, Wrong Diagnosis Despite Protest from the Patient ($216.7 million)

In 2006, a jury returned a $216.7 million verdict after establishing that the plaintiff was wrongly diagnosed by Austin, who was working for the first respondent. When Navvaro went to the hospital, he informed the medics that his family had a history of strokes. The doctors ignored this background information and diagnosed him with sinusitis. They gave him painkillers. The impact of the wrong diagnosis was that the Patient had to undergo surgery the following day to counter swelling, which had started to show in his brain.

Due to the surgery, Alan ended up spending at least three months in the hospital. The overall impact was that the Patient had limited cognitive abilities and faced the risk of swallowing his food whenever he wanted to swallow. Further investigations established that the doctor who performed the first examination was not licensed to practice as a physician’s assistant.

Summary of Medical Negligence Cases in The United States

The 10 cases discussed above present just a tip of medical malpractices in the United States. There is a bigger underlying problem. A team of medical attorneys working for Weiss and Paarz analyzed the medical malpractice suits in the U.S. with respect to and found out that within that period, there were 1.4 million cases that were filled. On average, there are 47,000 cases filled annually. California, Texas, and New York were the states with the highest number of lawsuits, each with 138, 110, 122,197, and 89, 376 cases, respectively. Hawaii (2,438), South Dakota (3,094), and Washington D.C (3,094) had the least cases filled. These cases were either targeting private or public entities.

In Conclusion

The amount of money won by plaintiffs in the top medical negligence lawsuits in the U.S and the analysis provided herein signify a serious problem that can have far-reaching implications in the United States. The more these lawsuits increase, the higher the chances that there is reduced trust between medical practitioners and their prospective clients (patients). Many cases also targeted private entities, meaning that the Federal government has to take tougher actions to ensure compliance with the set standards is 100 percent.

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