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Jury Awards $40 Million In Medical Malpractice Case Involving Man Requiring Leg Amputation

Peter Sfameni, of North Providence, brought a medical malpractice claim against Rhode Island Hospital (RIH) after medical errors resulted in the need to amputate one of his legs. An eight-day trial in Superior Court resulted in a jury award of $40 million, which became $72 million after calculating the interest. 

Sfameni visited the emergency room at RIH in 2010 complaining of back pain, exhaustion and a loss of weight. Doctors instructed him to discontinue taking his blood thinning medication which he required due to a blood-clotting disorder he had inherited, so a colonoscopy could be conducted. Sfameni was discharged from the hospital several days later after not using the blood thinners for a period of 10 days.

Sfameni was determined to be experiencing hyper-coagulation and re-admitted to the hospital facility under the care of physicians John Ryan and Eric Winer, who planned a lymph-node biopsy. Instead of a lymph-node biopsy, he underwent a bone-marrow biopsy, after which a physician recommended he resume his blood thinners

Days later, Sfameni became extremely ill and was suffering from clots of blood in the legs and within his lungs. He returned to the hospital and was given strong doses of blood thinners. Although he survived, his leg required amputation due to the progression of gangrene. He claimed to then experience severe depression and anxiety from his state of loneliness based on a lack of mobility and isolation.

A recent report by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) suggests that anticoagulants are among those prescription products that result in the highest number of visits to the emergency room. Some of the more common include Xarelto, Pradaxa, and warfarin, all used in the prevention of blood clotting. In 2015, their data indicated that 3,000 deaths and 22,000 severe injuries occurred due to the usage of blood thinning medications. 

Recently, a lawsuit settlement totaling $650 million was announced against the makers of Pradaxa. A lawsuit involving Xarelto was brought by patients who claimed the manufacturer minimized the dangers of excessive bleeding in their marketing campaigns, which was a significant risk to patient safety.

The actual number of blood thinner-related injuries is difficult to determine because the FDA reports on only those who volunteer the information. A rough estimate according to the CDC, placed the number at potentially 250,000. Anticoagulants have proven their effectiveness in treating blood clots, atrial fibrillation, respiratory embolisms and other potentially dangerous conditions among patients. 

Blood clots often develop after patients who live a sedentary lifestyle undergo a surgical procedure. One problem is the increased potential for significant blood loss. Those who incur a cut may have difficulty stopping the bleeding because the blood will not clot. This problem can result in an often routine cut progressing into a considerably larger concern.

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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