MEDICAL MALPRACTICE AND PERSONAL INJURY LAW BLOG

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Former Major League Pitcher $5.1 Million Settlement In Medical Malpractice Case

Bobby Jenks, a former major-league baseball player, had brought a case of medical malpractice in the Superior Court of Suffolk County after alleged surgical mistakes had forced him to prematurely end his professional career. His legal counsel reached a settlement agreement just before a trial was to begin that will allow him to receive roughly $5.1 million. The defendant was Massachusetts General Hospital, an institution that was founded in 1811 and has been ranked among the top five hospitals in the country for many years.

Background of Initial Injury

Jenks had played professionally with Chicago for six seasons and then one final season with the Boston Red Sox in 2011. He is best remembered for performing well in two games of the 2005 World Series. During his career, he earned an estimated $26.4 million.

Jenks underwent a spinal decompression procedure at Massachusetts General in 2011 and never was able to return to baseball. Jenks explained that the events were “absolutely devastating.” Shortly after the procedure, he began having headaches and spinal fluid began to leak from where the surgical incision had been made.

Second Surgical Procedure

The initial surgery sought to remove bone spurs that had developed in his back. The plan was to remove two of the four spurs, which his lawsuit claimed was improperly performed. After he began developing harsh symptoms, he was told that immediate surgery was required. He was apparently suffering from a pulmonary embolism that resulted from a blood clot.

Hospital Response

His lawsuit alleged that the physician who had initially performed the surgery was “simultaneously” involved in another operation. The hospital, which has a tremendous reputation, chose not to comment until the conclusion of the legal proceedings. Massachusetts General Hospital has approximately 1,000 beds and annually has 48,000 inpatient admissions and performs over 42,000 surgical procedures. A hospital spokesman later stated that Jenks had been the recipient of “high-quality and appropriate care.”

About Bone Spurs

Osteophytes, commonly referred to as bone spurs, are hard “bumps” composed of bone material that develops in the joint areas where two bones meet one another:

  • Hands
  • Shoulder regions
  • In the bones within the neck or spine
  • Hips
  • Within knee joints
  • In the heel section of the foot

Why a Pulmonary Embolism May Be Fatal

A pulmonary embolism is when an obstruction develops in arteries within the lungs. A blood clot generally travels from some other part of the body and creates the blockage, which deprives the body of oxygen. Most clots originate in the veins of the legs, a condition referred to as deep vein thrombosis. It is critical that those suffering from a pulmonary embolism receive immediate medical attention.

Defining Medical Malpractice in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, they employ a somewhat unique method of initially determining if a medical malpractice claim has validity. Claims are “screened” by a “tribunal” composed of a judge, a physician, and an attorney.

The plaintiff is required to submit an Offer of Proof that contains reasoning to assess whether a “legitimate question of liability” exists. The plaintiff must prove that a healthcare professional did not act according to established medical practices and that this failure led to the injury.

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian
Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm’s litigation practice.  Briggs’ legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 

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