New York’s victims of clinical negligence have received a total of $135 million in compensation in 2011, the latest data shows. That’s up 5% on the previous year.
A 38-year-old woman from the Bronx who was left paralyzed after seeking treatment for a cheek infection at Lincoln Hospita was awarded $8 million, the single largest payout.
The dentist who treated her drained an abscess and then sent her home. He neglected to send a sample of the infected tissue off for tests, however, and therefore failed to establish that she was suffering from MRSA, an increasingly common but highly dangerous infection. She returned to the hospital in agony around 10 days later, but the infection had already reached her neck and spine by then. She can no longer move from the neck down.
A total of 246 medical negligence cases were concluded in 2011, with the total bill coming in $7 million higher than 2010. Some families have been fighting for compensation for more than a decade.
One family lost their 10-year-old daughter in 1998 after she suffered an asthma attack. The doctor at Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn set her ventilator at 40 breaths per minute (8-10 breaths per minute is what a small child requires), causing fatal damage to her lungs.
After a 6-week trial in 2007, the jury awarded the family $3.5 million for their pain and suffering, in addition to $500,000 for the girl’s wrongful death. The city appealed the decision, which led to the case dragging on for another 4 years, only for the original ruling to be upheld.
Officials at Health and Hospitals Corp did not wish to comment on individual cases, but said overall spending on malpractice lawsuits had been cut by an average of $65 million a year since 2003.
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