A recent jury award in a medical malpractice case in Rome, New York, underscores the importance of following medical protocols for evaluating patients. The plaintiff, now a 22 year old woman, suffered an ischemic stroke while rehearsing a high school play on March 11, 2007. The civil jury awarded her $1.25 million in damages, agreeing that the hospital and ER doctor were medically negligent in not immediately diagnosing her condition.
By the time the hospital staff consulted a neurologist, it was too late for the teen to benefit from clot-busting drugs. Such drugs must be administered within three hours of the event to prevent damage. The young woman suffers from significant speech, physical and other problems because she did not receive timely medical treatment.
The verdict included damages for past medical expenses as well as past and future pain and suffering.
The hospital responded that ischemic stroke is very rare in children and young adults, and that it was not negligence that caused the failure to diagnose the stroke. They further argued that ad ministering the clot-busting drug would have been an off-label use, as the drug, tPA, is intended only for adults.
However, the young woman’s attorney presented evidence at the medical malpractice trial that showed that the hospital staff failed to follow their own protocols for neurological exams and that at age 16, the patient was physiologically an adult and that administering tPA would have been entirely appropriate.
The hospital will not comment further because post-trial motions are before the court.
Source: Observer-Dispatch, “$1.25 million awarded in St. Elizabeth malpractice case,” by Rocco LaDuca, Mar. 4, 2013.