In April, a Philadelphia jury returned a $44.1 million medical malpractice damage award against the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania for failing to recognize a patient’s adverse reaction to a drug. The mistake left Andrea Tate essentially paralyzed. The case, Tate v. Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania resulted in the highest malpractice award in the last two years.
In September of 2011, Tate drove herself to the hospital to have a routine procedure to remove a benign tumor located in tissue surrounding her brain. Tate was put on heparin, an anti-coagulant drug. For the next six days, Tate’s blood was tested to make sure the drugs were not making her blood too thin. The tests consistently revealed that the coagulation (clotting factor) of her blood was becoming increasingly thin, and was heading toward dangerous levels.
But after six days, hospital staff stopped monitoring Tate’s coagulation. No tests were completed for two days. On the third day, it was discovered that Tate had suffered a massive hemorrhage in her brain, leaving her profound brain damage, bedridden and unable to walk or complete basic tasks like feeding herself or using the bathroom.
During settlement talks, the hospital offered to pay $15 million of the $31 million demanded by Tate and her attorneys. The case went to trial, where Tate was awarded $44.1 million. This award includes $17 million for non-economic damages and $5.7 million for loss of consortium awarded to Tate’s husband. It is estimated that medical costs for Tate will start at about $500,000 and go up to $1.2 million by 2039.
The jury found the hospital 65% liable for the injury, and the attending doctor 35% liable for the injury.
The doctors on the case claim that the hemorrhage was due to complications of the surgery. Though the procedure was routine, they claim that the position of the tumor made the operation difficult. Doctors also claim that all of the coagulation levels reported were within normal ranges. This is true, but the doctors have no data for the two days leading up to the hemorrhage when coagulation levels were at their worst.
Defense attorneys for Tate used a variety of expert witnesses to prove that the standard of care required the doctors to continue the testing of Tate’s coagulation given the upward trend of her previous test results. One doctor on the case even testified that Tate’s coagulation was monitored because hospital staff worried that she was at high-risk for developing a brain bleed.
The hospital released a statement saying they were disappointed in the verdict and believed that Tate received proper medical care.
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to a doctor’s negligence, call Gilman and Bedigian today to schedule a free consultation.