A good relationship between a doctor and a patient is essential in regard to good patient health outcomes. Patients literally put their lives in the hands of physicians, exhibiting a degree of vulnerability and trust that is unparalleled in comparison to other industries. But in an era where medical malpractice claims are common, and patients are increasingly admitting their skepticism of doctors and hospitals, it may be difficult to establish a healthy doctor-patient relationship. It doesn't help that many people, through their accessibility to information through the internet, television and other outlets, have heard horror stories of patients sustaining debilitating injuries.
The story of a Colorado woman who was admitted into a local surgical center and given the wrong treatments could be one of the events that patients remember when interacting with doctors. The 57-year-old woman was awarded a huge payout of $14.9 million this month after her surgeon was found liable by the court for her paralysis. According to her lawyer, she received the second-largest payout in state history.
Robbin Smith and her husband Ed Smith filed the lawsuit against The Surgery Center at Lone Tree, an ambulatory same day surgery facility, in September of 2013. She had been admitted under the care of the center when she endured the wrong treatment provided by medical staff. She was given an epidural steroid injection that had the drug Kenalog in it. Shortly after receiving the injection, she found herself paralyzed from the waist down. Apparently, the injection had directly caused a spinal cord infraction that blocked the blood supply to an organ or area of the tissues. The injection had cause the tissue to die.
Smith's lawyers claim that the Kenalog bottle had a clear neurological warning on the bottles that read “Not for Epidural Use.” The manufacturer had requested permission from the FDA to add the warning to the label two years prior to the incident. Bruce Braley, one of the Smith's attorneys, displayed examples of the warning printed on the labels to the jury, claiming that this was an act of pure negligence and that the manufacturer was not at fault.
The jury found the surgical center completely liable for Robbin's injuries.
“This verdict won't restore Robbin's ability to walk,” Braley said. “But it will give Robbin and Ed the chance to make the most of the life they now have. I hope this never happens to another family in Colorado or anywhere else.”
“We hope this is a wake-up call for Ambulatory Surgery Centers and the people who run them,” Ed Smith said. “It's one thing to say that patient safety is your first priority; it's another thing to actually make it your top priority.”
If you have been injured while in the care of a medical professional or facility, you may be entitled to compensation. Attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian will advocate for you while you focus on recovering. Call their office at (800) 529-6162 or contact them online. The firm handles cases in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.