Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Law Blog

Jury Awards $14 Million in Medical Malpractice Case Involving Surgical Error

Posted by Briggs Bedigian | Mar 01, 2019 | 0 Comments

Plaintiff Latosha Evans had undergone a heart transplant. Several years later, it was determined that a stent within the heart was damaged. During a surgical stent replacement procedure, it was determined that the facility did not have the stent that was needed on-hand. Her surgery was prolonged to allow for time to have the necessary stents transferred from another location.

Shortly after this lengthy four-hour procedure, Evans experienced a stroke. She pursued a claim of medical malpractice against Seattle Children's Hospital and Children University Medical Group asserting the delay during surgery had brought on the stroke.

The trial was held in a King County court after no settlement agreement could be reached among the parties. The jury determined that the surgeon and the facility were negligent and demonstrated a failure in preventing the stroke. Evans has required assistance with day-to-day tasks following the stroke. The jury awarded her a total of approximately $14 million in monetary compensation.

Procedural Problems

The procedure she had to replace the stent is known as an elective cardiac catheterization. Stents are tubes typically composed of a “metal mesh” that can extend to maintain the width of arteries. They are often used to treat individuals suffering from heart conditions to alleviate chest pains and prevent a heart attack. When used specifically in this manner they are commonly referred to as cardiac or coronary stents.

Hospital Response

The jury believed that the stroke was causally related to the surgical procedure. Evans continues to require continuous care and suffers from cognitive impairments and difficulty with mobility. $10.95 million of the jury award was allocated for future economic damages that are associated with her need for care. Kathryn Mueller issued a response on behalf of the hospital expressing sympathy. Mueller emphasized that the hospital continues to be committed to “patient safety” and high-quality medical treatment.

Understanding Stroke

Strokes happen when an individual experiences an obstruction that prevents blood flow to the brain. During the period where the brain does not receive a flow of blood, brain damage can occur from a lack of oxygen and key nutrients. These are deemed as medical emergencies that require swift treatment. In recent years, the medical community has made strides in the prevention of stroke and they are becoming less common.

Signs and Symptoms of Stroke

  • A difficulty with speaking or slurring of words
  • The individual may be confused or disoriented
  • Paralysis and/or numbness may occur in the extremities or face
  • Vision may be impaired in one or both eyes
  • Fairly severe headaches are quite common
  • Vomiting and dizziness also occur in some cases

About Future Damages

In this case, roughly $11 of the $14 million awarded was designated for the plaintiff's future medical care and assistance. This is common in cases where there were permanent injuries or impairment. Determining a reasonable amount of compensation for future damages can be challenging. Often financial or economic experts will be used to calculate these future costs. Factors that may be considered include future surgical procedures, medical equipment, physical therapy, and more.

About the Author

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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