Enso Martinez and Rebecca Fielding of Maryland recently won a record $55 million malpractice award for damages caused to their infant son when Johns Hopkins Hospital delayed performing an emergency cesarean for two full hours. While Georgia law imposes a cap on punitive damages, the true financial cost of a birth injury can net parents the compensation they need to care for their child throughout his or her lifetime — Martinez and Fielding will take home $29.6 million for the lifetime care of their son, Enso, who suffers from cerebral palsy.
The vast majority of medical malpractice claim fall within the following five categories:
- Surgical Errors. A JAMA study indicated that surgical errors account for approximately 34% of all malpractice claims. Surgical errors include damage to organs, surgery at the wrong site or on the wrong patient, and leaving surgical instruments inside the body. Lawsuits for unnecessary surgery include pacemaker implants, coronary bypass surgery and hysterectomy. An increasing number of cardiologists are also being sued for implanting unnecessary heart stints in their patients.
- Anesthesia Errors. Anesthesia errors include negligent preparation and failure to monitor an anesthetized patient during surgery. As a result, some patients regain consciousness during the course of their surgery and experience the pain of the procedure. If anesthesia is administered incorrectly or if a patient has an adverse reaction, brain damage and disability may occur.
- Delay or Failure to Diagnose. The JAMA report indicated that diagnostic errors comprise around 46% of all medical malpractice claims. Misdiagnosing diabetes, appendicitis or the symptoms of an impending heart attack greatly reduce a patient’s survival rate.
- Delayed or Improper Treatment. Common malpractice claims against doctors and their staff include the failure to diagnose and properly treat serious medical conditions such as stroke or cancer, misreading x-rays and other test results and wrong prescriptions.
- Childbirth Trauma and Labor Malpractice. OB/GYNs are the most commonly sued medical professionals (19% of all medical malpractice claims), and childbirth injury claims the highest awards.
Despite common perceptions, most medical malpractice cases are not frivolous. A 2012 report indicated that 80% of compensation paid in 2011 to victims of medical negligence was for malpractice that resulted in death or for significant and permanent injuries such as quadriplegia, brain damage and injuries requiring lifelong care. If you or a loved one has been a victim of medical malpractice, contact our office today for a consultation.