Five Famous Medical Malpractice Cases

While there are a lot of things individuals can do to take care of their own health, at one time or another most people find themselves in situations where they are relying on medical professionals to treat some sort of ailment. When a person is being treated, they are forced to relinquish control, and trust that the professionals are applying their knowledge and expertise in order to give their patient the best chance for healing.

As a Louisville personal injury law practice, we see doctors, nurses, and other staff truly do everything they know how to help a patient Sometimes, even their best results in death or worsening of an illness or injury. But there are also many times when the details of medical protocol fall through the cracks, and a serious medical situation results. Too often the mistake that is made is hidden in hopes that they can fix what they did wrong without the patient or their family being any wiser. But just like children who try and glue a vase back together after they have knocked it over, hoping their parents don’t notice, a little patchwork is not enough to erase the mistake. With medical malpractice, however, the situation is far worse, because there is much more at stake.

Medical malpractice hits people in every socio-economical group, from “regular people” to famous celebrities. Here are five cases of medical malpractice that had a huge impact on the victims and their families.

Dennis Quaid’s Newborn Twins

In November, 2007 Dennis Quaid and his wife Kimberly welcomed their their twins Zoe Grace and Thomas Boone into the world. When the babies were just two weeks old, they developed staff infections. The infections were difficult, but treatment was relatively standard and included administering an appropriate sized dose of Heparin, a blood thinning medication. Unfortunately, the wrong dosage was given to the Quaid infants — by 1000 times. The pharmacy technicians had delivered adult concentrations of the drug to the pediatric unit.

The babies were administered two doses of the drug eight hours apart. When the Quaids called the hospital to check on their condition, they were told that the babies were “fine.” even though the hospital was treating them for the overdose, which left the babies vulnerable to extreme bleeding.

The Quaid’s were not made aware until they showed up at the hospital early the next morning, greeted by the “risk management” department and were finally told that their children were in critical condition. In addition to making the error, and attempting to cover it up, the hospital also mismanaged media relations. Fortunately, after 11 days in intensive care the twins made a full recovery, and eventually they settled the case with the hospital for $750,000, and the hospital was another $25,000 by the California Department of Public Health.

Julie Andrews Throat Operation

Julie Andrews Medical MalpracticeFew would argue that the voice of Julie Andrews was among the most revered of the century. In 1997, she had developed nodules on her vocal chords which were causing minor problems. She was told surgery and a six week rest would correct things, but the operation permanently damaged her voice, leaving her unable to continue singing. Her malpractice suit was settled in a New York court.

Rhode Island Hospital Brain Surgery

When neurosurgeons undergo an operation on a person’s brain, double checking all the details is important — after all, it is brain surgery. However, in 2007 Rhode Island Hospital’s surgeons started operating on the wrong side of the brain three different times. Twice, they were able to correct their own mistake, by closing the holes and proceeding with the correct operation. The third patient was not as fortunate, and died three weeks after the botched surgery, The surgeon received a two month suspension of his license before returning to work.

Sherman Sizemore Anesthetic Awareness

When Sherman Sizemore underwent surgery in 2006. two types of anesthesia were required for the operation, paralytic agents, to prevent him from moving or speaking during the operation, and inhalation anesthesia which would make him lose consciousness and prevent him from feeling the pain of the surgery. The first was administered correctly, but the second was not.

Sixteen minutes into the surgery the medical team realized that he was still awake. The inhalational anesthesia, along with another drug intended to induce amnesia were given at that point, but Mr. Sizemore experienced nearly a half hour of surgery, complete with pain, while fully conscious. He was never told what happened. But although he was unable to point to a concrete memory of the incident, something was clearly wrong. With no prior history of psychiatric or psychological conditions, Sizemore was suddenly panicked. He thought that people were trying to bury him alive, and suffered from insomnia and nightmares. He committed suicide just weeks after the surgery, but his family didn’t fully make the connection between the surgery and his psychological struggles until a doctor mentioned the possibility while offering his condolences, prompting a closer look at his medical records.

Jesica Santilian Heart and Lung Transplant

In 2003, 17 year old Jesica Santilian came to the United States from Mexico to receive treatment for a severe heart condition, and it must have been a great relief to hear that she would receive the heart and lung transplant she needed. When doctors transplanted the organs, Jesica experienced severe brain damage, and her body was shutting down. At that point, medical staff realized that that the donor of the new organs did not have the same blood type as Jesica. While the physician attempted to rectify the error by finding compatible organs, and performing a second surgery, the damage had been done. Jessica did not survive the operation. The doctor took responsibility for the error, and the hospital implemented a new system to double check transplants in order to prevent similar errors from occurring.

Medical malpractice is not always as dramatic as it was in these instances, but the mistakes of medical professionals can result in a range of problems from inconvenience, to a more difficult recovery, to death. Hospitals and medical professionals often do not admit that they made a mistake, and attempt to cover their tracks leaving the patient and/or their family with little more than a gut feeling regarding the mishap. While there is no guarantee that such a feeling will lead to a successful lawsuit, it is still important for those in Kentucky to investigate and confirm the possibility as soon as possible. Most malpractice related lawsuits in the state fall under a one year statute of limitations, so it is important to act right not to miss an opportunity.

A Johns Hopkins Malpractice Study revealed that medical errors contribute to over 4,000 deaths each year, but 97% of valid claims are never pursued. Filing a malpractice suit is about more than money, it’s about accountability. By drawing attention to preventable mistakes, hospitals and medical professionals are forced to take a second look at their approach to medical care and make improvements that can help others. At Meinhart, Smith, and Manning in Louisville, we have handled multiple medical malpractice lawsuits, and we’re ready to look at the specifics of your case, and help you decide if filing a medical malpractice suit is the right move for you. Contact our office today for a free consultation with our experienced attorneys.