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Malpractice settlement aims to curb negligence in communication

One man's successful medical malpractice suit is more than just a win for him; it is also a win for future patients of the hospital outside of New Jersey where he was initially treated several years ago. According to the man's lawsuit, there was negligence in the line of communication between his various health care providers, which ultimately led to devastating injuries and lifelong complications. As part of his settlement, he is no longer on the hook for the nearly $800,000 in pending medical bills.

After the 27-year-old man was involved in a motorcycle wreck in 2010, he was transported to a local hospital for treatment. He required emergency surgery for an aorta that ruptured in the wreck, during which attending doctors placed a stent-graft. Initially, his recovery appeared to be going well. 

In 2011, the man's legs suddenly gave out in the middle of a basketball game. Suffering from both significant pain and no sensation in his legs, he returned to the hospital. It took a full two days before health care workers discovered the problem -- a clot had developed in the stent that had been placed during his initial surgery. As a result, all of the blood flow to his legs and the rest of the man's lower body had been cut off. By the time the problem was discovered and surgery was performed, it was too late to correct the issue. 

Now suffering from permanent paralysis, he filed a medical malpractice suit against the hospital that was ultimately successfully settled. As part of the settlement, the hospital also decided to create a corrective active plan that will work to improve communication between emergency personnel and those providing in-hospital care. Although victims in New Jersey may initially be hesitant to move forward with a claim for negligence, it is important to remember that one successful claim can improve the care provided to many other patients who will ultimately need to seek out treatment.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "L.A. County settles medical malpractice case for $4.5 million", Jean Merl, March 31, 2015

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Alan D. Bell
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