Jury Awards $58.6 million for OB/GYN mistake - page 2

original article located here some of the comments at the bottom of the page are interesting, some are downright stupid. what are your thoughts?... Read More

  1. Visit  Jolie profile page
    27
    I've told this story on AN before, and will tell it again, to help some posters understand that awards in OB can have very little to do with legitimate blame, and very much to do with emotion on the part of the jury.

    My sister has friend who is (was) an OB. She accepted a patient who had just recently moved to town and presented for prenatal care with her 2nd pregnancy. On the first visit, attended by both husband and wife, the OB learned that the couple had a very young child (very short interval between pregnancies) who had been delivered by C-section via a vertical incision. She cautioned them both of the dangers of uterine rupture with so little time for the uterine incision to heal between deliveries and counseled them about the likely need for a repeat C-section prior to the onset of labor to safely deliver this baby.

    The couple balked at this information, refused to provide the OB with records from the previous pregnancy, and were unwilling to seek a second opinion as requested by the OB. She documented very clearly the conversations and teaching at each and every prenatal visit.

    When the patient went into labor, she called the OB, who implored her to come to the hospital. She assured her that she could not and would not attempt to "force" a C-section on her, but wanted to be able to monitor her in a safe environment, where help was immediately available in the event of an emergency. The woman refused, and labored at home, until...you guessed it... she began to experience terrible pain and bleeding.

    She was rushed to the hospital where the OB delivered a dead baby and performed a hysterectomy to save the mother's life.

    The parents sued the OB and won a huge settlement for loss of the baby and loss of future childbearing ability.

    The jury was interviewed and stated, to a member, that they didn't really believe the OB was at fault, but they thought someone ought to pay the price for the couple's loss of their child. (Here's a novel idea...how about the parents!)

    The last I knew, the OB was no longer practicing. I don't know if her insurance company appealed the verdict.
    usalsfyre, MissMcCoy, dudette10, and 24 others like this.
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  3. Visit  JG_0311 profile page
    6
    Quote from SoldierNurse22
    Geez, how do you sue someone over a judgment call?
    Monday morning quaterback syndrome. It's very easy to tell everyone what the should have done if you already know how the situation played out. Juror's on medical cases should be in the medical profession, so that they can understand the difficulty involved in making a judgement call.
    kito4149, wooh, Conqueror+, and 3 others like this.
  4. Visit  JG_0311 profile page
    8
    Quote from Jolie
    The jury was interviewed and stated, to a member, that they didn't really believe the OB was at fault, but they thought someone ought to pay the price for the couple's loss of their child. (Here's a novel idea...how about the parents!)
    That is digusting, where is the personal responsibility. My theory is that people watch to many movies/tv shows where the poor suffering person sues and gets a multimillion dollar verdict to right the wrongs done to them, I think it's an example of life immitating art. It reminds me of a case I read about where a burglar was up on a womans roof with the intentions of robbing her home. He fell through her sky light and sued her for his injuries. You would think that case would be a no brainer, but he won. Trial by jury, the thought sends shivers down my spine.
  5. Visit  SoldierNurse22 profile page
    9
    Quote from Kooky Korky
    Who cares what they "go through"? When someone is damaged, it costs money to take care of them. Good feelings, reasonableness - these do not buy diapers, therapy, wheelchairs, hospital beds, remodeling of the home to accommodate the handicapped person, and on and on and on and on and on and on, etc.

    Doctors go to school and do a residency. yes, they're fallible and human, sure they agonize over many dilemmas and have to use judgment, no they're not always right. The outcome is horrendous when they guess wrongly.

    What about what the family has to "go through" and what the direct victim of the doctor's error has to "go through"?

    If any reform is needed, it should be in the amount the lawyers get from the plaintiffs. Reduce that to about 10%, down from the standard 33%. Now that would be reform.

    Who cares what runs through a healthcare professional's head? You should. Anyone who is a consumer should be concerned because there are some providers out there who are just plain negligent, and, more frighteningly, malicious. It's rare, but it happens. And they should be punished. But you should also care because there are providers out there who bear no ill will, who do everything they can for their patients, but things go wrong anyway by no fault of their own. And these people should not be prosecuted for something that is undeniably out of their control. You seem very concerned about justice for the patient, but what about justice for the provider?

    Malpractice insurance isn't available to provide free rides for people when life takes an unintentionally nasty turn--it's to protect providers from people like this, who take an unarguably horrible event and try to turn it into something it isn't.

    To argue that because a doctor's clinical judgment (which is very different from a guess, I assure you) was wrong, that doctor should have to pay for that child's healthcare for the rest of its life is ridiculous. Anyone who goes to a doctor must assume that the doctor, being human, is fallible. Unless that doctor acted in negligence or maliciously, then they have no ground upon which to sue them. They must also understand and accept that being human, the doctor cannot control the human body. Things can change in an instant and turn what was a sound decision 2 minutes ago into the worst decision of a provider's career (based on the evidence, this would appear to be the case here). The parents made the decision to seek medical assistance in the delivery of their infant. No one forced it upon them.

    Good feelings and reasonableness do not buy medical supplies, but neither should a doctor's malpractice insurance in a case like this. Things go wrong with or without the presence of healthcare professionals. Unless patients are willing to take the risk that the doctor's clinical judgment may, on occasion, be wrong, then they shouldn't go to a doctor.
    Last edit by SoldierNurse22 on Jun 5, '11
    leslie :-D, tablefor9, wooh, and 6 others like this.
  6. Visit  SoldierNurse22 profile page
    2
    Quote from JG_0311
    Monday morning quaterback syndrome. It's very easy to tell everyone what the should have done if you already know how the situation played out. Juror's on medical cases should be in the medical profession, so that they can understand the difficulty involved in making a judgement call.
    I agree completely. The healthcare system is a sub-culture all its own with all the unique trappings--its own language, expectations of behavior, traditions, and rules that are undeniably different than the world outside. To call in people who have no knowledge of this world to make decisions that can end careers, break the bank or put people away for years is ridiculous.
    Mrs. SnowStormRN and Jolie like this.
  7. Visit  HeartsOpenWide profile page
    2
    Decisions are made like these because all a jury can see is a severally damaged or dead baby.
    wooh and imintrouble like this.
  8. Visit  Batman25 profile page
    9
    Quote from Jolie
    The jury was interviewed and stated, to a member, that they didn't really believe the OB was at fault, but they thought someone ought to pay the price for the couple's loss of their child. (Here's a novel idea...how about the parents!)

    The last I knew, the OB was no longer practicing. I don't know if her insurance company appealed the verdict.
    I'm so sorry for this OB. I bet she will never practice again. Her malpractice insurance would now be so ski high even working 24/7 wouldn't cover it. Very sad.

    Unfortunately I believe this is a big issue in our judicial system. By this juror's own admission they didn't do the job they were to do. They let their personal feelings interfere with what was right. If the doctor wasn't negligent, etc. they shouldn't have to pay. Period. Even sadder here is the real fault lies entirely with the parents and while I am sad they lost their child regardless of the circumstances, I am furious they made millions due to THEIR negligence. They let their baby down.
    '
    leslie :-D, wooh, DizzyLizzyNurse, and 6 others like this.
  9. Visit  bols27 profile page
    5
    I think juries have a tendency to see the Dr. as a non human machine that should never make a mistake, and can fix any situation. The simple fact that they have no idea what it is like to be a doctor or even a nurse (as im sure any medical professional would be dismissed from a medical malpractice jury during juror selection) makes them completely unqualified to make any decision or award based on the case. Is a jury capable of deciding if an act is done with malicious criminal intent? probably in most cases. are they capable of second guessing a judgement call by a doctor? absolutely not. Malpractice cases should be reviewed by medical review boards and awards decided by specialized individuals who have full medical training and experience. In my opinion, by the letter of the law malpractice cases that go to trial are unconstitutional. These doctors are in no way tried by a jury of their piers. Aside from that fact, this just goes to show the horrible mentality of our country. An unreasonable medical malpractice settlement in no way heals the pain caused by losing a child. I agree that if there was something negligent done then the parents should be awarded enough money to reasonably take care of that child, but not to buy a yacht and mansion. Simply seeking such a large settlement is deplorable.
    I chose to pursue nursing as opposed to medicine because of this sort of situation. When is the last time you heard of a jury considering the physicians debt for education, personal sacrifice, overwhelming amount of responsibility, and loss of their entire livelyhood when awarding such a ridiculous amount of money. I mean they had to consider the personal effect of the action on the plaintiff, why not the defendant?
  10. Visit  klone profile page
    9
    Quote from HeartsOpenWide
    Decisions are made like these because all a jury can see is a severally damaged or dead baby.
    And a damaged baby is worth more than a dead baby, in litigation.
    wooh, herring_RN, Not_A_Hat_Person, and 6 others like this.
  11. Visit  steelydanfan profile page
    3
    Quote from Arcticrainbows
    I don't agree with the decision made by the jury, however I think it is sickening to automatically assume that he mother of this child "saw dollars signs". I highly doubt when her baby came out blue she thought to herself "hell yeah! Now I can buy a new car!"

    All this talk is going around about how the jury is not medically trained and therefore can not make an accurate judgement in the case, but we have to understand that the family of this child is not medically trained either, and I'm sure there is no way to assure them that something did not go wrong. They can talk to 10 different doctors and all of those doctors will have a different opinion on what could have been done differently, if anything.

    Right now I am looking at my little girl in the pool and reading this brings me back to when she was born. I had problems and they were going to induce me about a week early. Well I get all settled into my room thinking I would have the baby the next day and the doctor calls and says they are going to do an emergency csection in 30 mins!!! I didn't know what was going on, and there wasn't even enough time to ask questions and get answers so I had to trust my doctor. Fortunately I don't have to spend the rest of my life wondering if my doctor "jumped the gun" or did it too late.
    "Not understanding something" or "not asking questions" does not mean your doctor did something wrong. Sometimes, things have to happen in a hurry; and sad to say, if most patients cannot remember their conversation with thier doctor 5 minutes after an OFFICE VISIT; it's quite probable that YOUR doctor explained the reasons for your emergency c-section; asked if you had questions, and left feeling that you communicated.
    "Not remembering" does not mean it did not happen; it means that you did not register it. There is NO way for health care professionals to ascertain that you have REALLY taken information in, once they have asked and gotten an affirmative reply to "do you understand?, and tell me what the doctor just said".
    wooh, Mrs. SnowStormRN, and Jolie like this.
  12. Visit  steelydanfan profile page
    8
    Quote from Kooky Korky
    Who cares what they "go through"? When someone is damaged, it costs money to take care of them. Good feelings, reasonableness - these do not buy diapers, therapy, wheelchairs, hospital beds, remodeling of the home to accommodate the handicapped person, and on and on and on and on and on and on, etc.

    Doctors go to school and do a residency. yes, they're fallible and human, sure they agonize over many dilemmas and have to use judgment, no they're not always right. The outcome is horrendous when they guess wrongly.

    What about what the family has to "go through" and what the direct victim of the doctor's error has to "go through"?

    If any reform is needed, it should be in the amount the lawyers get from the plaintiffs. Reduce that to about 10%, down from the standard 33%. Now that would be reform.
    GUESS?!! Do you actually think that doctors GUESS a patients ailment?

    Medicine is as much an art as a science, as intuitive as it is factual; and sorry to tell you poster; life does not come with guarantees.

    The sickness is NOTthe healthcare practioner's fault. People get sick, they fail, they die.

    Yes, practioners do err, but too often lawsuits are borne of people just not liking the outcome. "WHAAT! I have to pay for diapers, PT, wheelchairs, and home modifications?" Well, I guesss we have to sue!
    Asinda, wooh, DizzyLizzyNurse, and 5 others like this.
  13. Visit  HeartsOpenWide profile page
    4
    Quote from klone
    And a damaged baby is worth more than a dead baby, in litigation.
    Exactly, a damaged baby is still living and will need life long medical support
    wooh, herring_RN, lindarn, and 1 other like this.
  14. Visit  azhiker96 profile page
    7
    One problem is the prevailing legal attitude that poor outcomes are the result of something the doctor does. In most cases, a doctor does not start with a healthy patient and then make them sick. Instead, they start with an ill patient and attempt to make them well. Sometimes there are no interventions that will yeild the desired result but there is always a slick lawyer ready to sue on behalf of the family who's lost their loved one.
    mama_d, That Guy, DizzyLizzyNurse, and 4 others like this.


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