Medical malpractice remains a major cause of injury and death in Australia and the US.
In fact, estimates put medical error figures at approximately 18,000 deaths in Australia each year, with a further 50,000 suffering permanent injury due to medical negligence. In the US, there are more than 250,000 yearly. The most common cases being retained foreign objects, surgery on incorrect body parts, birth injury, medical and anesthesia errors, or misdiagnosis.
Although there are an alarming number of cases annually, medical negligence still remains highly complex. Anyone involved should seek advice from medical malpractice lawyers to understand all options.
Here are some of the most disturbing medical malpractice cases revealed.
Oxygen Starvation Causing Cerebral Palsy
In 2012 in Florida, $31 million was awarded from a 1998 medical malpractice case.
The mother was given too many drugs to stimulate labour, which starved her unborn child of critical oxygen causing cerebral palsy.
Infant Given 10 Times Correct Dose of Drugs
Two month old Madison Perry was given 10 times the correct dose of a blood-thinning drug after her prescription was misread, resulting in her death.
The tragic, accidental overdose of Heparin happened in 2006 at a Liverpool hospital when nurses read the prescription as 15,000, instead of the corrected calculated dose at 1,500 units. The parents spent years fighting the case, claiming she died of exceptionally poor care, with the hospital having to answer its negligence and change procedures to prevent further failures.
Screwdriver Transplant costs $5.6 Million
$5.6 million was awarded to the family of a man who had his spine braced by a screwdriver, instead of a titanium rod.
The orthopedic surgeon claimed the rods were realised to be missing after the patient was already cut open. To avoid aborting the operation, Dr. Ricketson chose to improvise and use the shaft of a screwdriver instead.
Days after surgery, the screwdriver snapped and the 73 year old patient underwent more back surgeries. He died two years later.
Misdiagnosed Stroke Causing Brain Damage
One of the largest medical malpractice settlements is a case in Florida, where Alan Navarro was paid out $216.7 million.
Navarro was left brain damaged and wheelchair-bound after doctors misdiagnosed stroke symptoms. The patient confirmed he had a family history of strokes in emergency, yet was diagnosed with sinusitis and sent home with a prescription of painkillers.
His brain swelled up overnight and Navarro was admitted for surgery the following day. After spending almost three months in a coma, Navarro was left with limited cognitive abilities and permanent brain damage.
Wrong Leg Amputated Leads to Millions Won
In 1995, a man was admitted for surgery to remove one of his legs which was badly diseased due to diabetes. However, the wrong leg was amputated.
The case became one of the most famous medical lawsuits. Mr. Willie King, the patient, received a payout of $900,000 from the hospital and $250,000 from Sanchez, the doctor who botched the surgery.
Scoliosis Surgery Wrongly Performed
Faith, a 10 year old girl was left partially paralyzed after her scoliosis spinal surgery went horribly wrong.
The incident happened in 2010 when she was taken into a Children’s hospital in Detroit for surgery. But, the rods and screws weren’t inserted correctly by the surgeon and left her spinal cord compressed. Instead of instant removal, the hardware wasn’t taken out until 10 days later. Faith became a quadriplegic with permanent damage. $135 million was awarded after a two week trial in 2018.
Celebrities aren’t immune to medical malpractice cases, with many famously tragic deaths occurring because of negligence. Some famous people who have experienced medical negligence include:
- Joan River (comedian): A botched laryngoscopy examination led to the swelling of her vocal cords. She died seven days later after being taken off life support
- Michael Jackson (singer/performer): Died as a result of a powerful and dangerous mix of drugs in his system, taken as prescribed by his doctor who was charged with involuntary manslaughter
- Julie Andrews (singer/actress): A botched throat operation left her with permanent vocal cord damage
- Geraldo Rivera (reporter/media personality): Underwent back surgery which resulted in a crippled right foot
When You May Need Protection
If you work in the medical industry, medical malpractice insurance and taking out a reliable policy is the smartest way to minimise the impact of negligence claims. Engaging with a specialised medical malpractice lawyer early in a case can offer a better understanding of your legal options, with expert knowledge on medical errors.