Jury: woman to receive $25.3 million in medical malpractice case
Sometimes a headline like the one above this blog post is misunderstood. People can see the dollar amount and think that the person has received a windfall, like winning the lottery. Of course, the reality is far different.
The 53-year-old woman in this medical malpractice case lost all four of her limbs; both arms, both legs. All four were amputated because an undetected infection led to septic shock, which caused devastating damage to her vascular system.
Regular readers know that we have repeatedly argued against reinstatement of Missouri’s medical malpractice caps. This case provides another strong argument against restoring the limits.
The Wisconsin woman is to receive $15 million for her pain and suffering, as $1.5 million for loss of companionship. Because that state has a hard cap on so-called noneconomic damages, the woman could lose all but $750,000 of the combined $16.5 million awarded her by the jury.
She is also to receive more than $8.2 million for past and future medical expenses.
Her medical malpractice attorney said the case “will likely get to the (Wisconsin) Supreme Court" on appeal.
The jury didn’t determine that the doctor or doctor’s assistant who treated the woman at a Milwaukee hospital were negligent. But it did find that the pair had failed to provide the woman with “alternative medical diagnoses” that would have informed her about available treatments.
Her attorney told the court that the woman was never informed that, based on her symptoms, she might have a bacterial infection. If she had been told, she would have sought treatment. "All of this for lack of a $25 antibiotic," he said.
This woman’s tragedy makes a powerful case against the caps we had not so long ago in our own state.
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Jury awards Milwaukee woman $25.3 million in medical malpractice case," Cary Spivak, July 7, 2014