Medical Lawsuits – Three Examples Of Malpractice & Answers To Common Questions

In this post, we’ll take a deep dive into medical lawsuits, from central pontine myelinolysis lawsuit examples to famous medical malpractice cases, to average settlements.

Some people see medical lawsuits as an opportunity for someone greedy to get their hands on a wad of cash. But this couldn’t be further from the truth! Victims of medical mishaps often spend the rest of their lives in unnecessary pain. Pursuing a medical malpractice case can be their best chance at living a more comfortable life. 

In this post we’ll share with you three examples of healthcare gone wrong. We’ll cover conditions such as central pontine myelinoysis, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, and Wernicke’s syndrome. We’ll also provide answers for a number of questions you may have about medical lawsuits. Keep reading to learn more and get answers to many of your questions. 

Example #1 – Central Pontine Myelinolysis Lawsuit

Richard visits the hospital complaining of dizziness and dehydration. He receives a diagnosis of hyponatremia, a condition caused by abnormally low sodium level in the body. The doctor then orders a nurse to administer to Richard a certain level of sodium every hour. But on accident, the nurse gives Richard triple the amount of sodium ordered, in about an hour. This fast increase of sodium causes Richard to develop central pontine myelinolysis.

What is central pontine myelinolysis (CPM)?

CPM is a neurological condition that affects the brain. It develops when there is a complication while treating hyponatremia. Remember that hyponatremia happens when a person has a very low sodium level. And this reduced sodium occurs when there is an electrolyte imbalance in the body. 

When diagnosed on time, hyponatremia can be treated.

Now CPM happens when there is a rapid change in the sodium level of the body. And this change occurs when medical professionals try to immediately correct their patient’s hyponatremia. Doing this too quickly can cause destruction to the protective sheath covering nerve fibers within the brain.

Complications caused by central pontine myelinolysis include cognitive impairment, hallucinations, brain damage, tremors, and uncontrollable eye movements

Read more about central pontine myelinolysis (CPM).

A medical malpractice victim stares out his hospital window.

Example #2 – Stevens-Johnson Syndrome

Brittany visits the hospital because of back pain. The doctor on call gives her some anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve the pain. Unfortunately, she has no idea that she’s allergic to an ingredient used in one of the medications. She only discovers this when she’s lying in the hospital two weeks later. And what’s even worse, now Brittany is fighting a condition known as Stevens-Johnson syndrome. 

What is Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS)?

Stevens-Johnson syndrome is a severe skin reaction caused by an allergic reaction to medication. SJS begins with flu-like symptoms and is followed by a spreading rash that forms painful blisters. Eventually, the infected skin dies and begins to peel off. It’s incredibly painful and can extremely alter a patient’s appearance in no time. 

When it’s not diagnosed early or properly treated, SJS can develop into Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN). And this negligence can lead to disability, serious infection or death. SJS can be caused by almost any medication but the most common culprits are barbiturates, antibiotics, anti-seizure medications, non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), and sulfonamides 

Immediately stopping the medication and minimizing the complications is an effective way to treat SJS. If this wasn’t done for your or a loved one, then you may want to file a Stevens-Johnson syndrome lawsuit against your doctor. 

Example #3 – Wernicke’s Syndrome

Mabel had a bariatric surgery to help her get a handle on her weight and was looking forward to a new healthy life. After a week, though, she began to experience dizziness, nausea, and blurred vision. 

She soon returns to the hospital and is given more tests. One of the test results show that Mabel has dangerously low vitamin B1 levels that demand immediate attention. However, treatment doesn’t happen because the results get lost in the hospital records system.

Mabel soon gets the go ahead to discharge because she’s showing some signs of improvement and she’s anxious to get home. But two days later, she becomes incoherent and has to be readmitted, but this time she goes to another hospital. There she is given vitamin B1 therapy. Sadly, Mabel still has some difficulties with her memory, vision, and balance.    

What is Wernicke’s syndrome?

Also known as Wernicke’s encephalopathy, this syndrome is a neurological disorder that can occur because of vitamin B1 deficiency. The low vitamin B1 causes the lower part of the brain to bleed. This bleeding then leads to confusion, fainting, vision problems, low blood pressure, and loss of mobility among other symptoms. When this syndrome isn’t treated in time, it can lead to Korsakoff syndrome – an irreversible syndrome that causes memory loss. 

Prolonged use of an IV without vitamin supplements and a poorly done bariatric surgery can lead to Wernicke’s syndrome.

A woman cries with her hands covering her face.

Why Medical Lawsuits Are Necessary

We know that everyone makes mistakes. But there’s a big difference between a mistake by your doctor and one by your waiter or hairdresser. A doctor’s actions can mean the difference between life and death for a patient. 

This is why medical lawsuits are so necessary.

Medical lawsuits ensure that medical professionals are held accountable for breaching the standards of their profession. Not only can a medical malpractice lawsuit help you get justice for yourself, but you can also help ensure this doesn’t happen to somebody else.  

Now that you’ve seen what medical malpractice errors look like, we’ll answer some of the questions you may have about medical lawsuits. 

What Counts As Medical Malpractice?

Operating on the wrong body part, making a negligent error in surgery, misdiagnosing, failing to diagnose or delaying diagnosis, ignoring lab results or misreading them, operating on someone when they don’t need it, childbirth injuries, dispensing wrong medication or too much of it, writing the wrong prescription — these are only a few examples of malpractice. We’ll explain more in the next section. 

What Are The 5 Most Common Types Of Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice can come in many forms. From doctors visits to hospital visits, there’s a lot of room for error if doctors don’t paying close attention. Here are the 5 most common forms of malpractice:

► Misdiagnosis, or giving a patient the wrong diagnosis for their illness.

► Surgical mistakes, like operating on the wrong body part, for example.

► Birth injuries, such as injuring a baby with forceps.

Prescription errors, like writing the wrong prescription.  

► Failure to treat; failing to diagnose, delaying diagnosis, or slow medical treatment are all prime examples.

A newborn baby is held in its mothers arms.

How Do You Know If You Have A Medical Malpractice Case?

The answer is almost 100% yes if you answer yes to any of the questions below:

► Did they leave a surgical tool or other foreign object inside your body after performing surgery?

► Did they perform an unneeded operation on you?

► Was there a patient mix-up? Did you receive a surgery meant for someone else? 

► Did they operate on the wrong body part?

► Did they perform surgery without your permission? (Non-emergency only.)

► Did they fail to inform you about a significant risk? (A risk that has more than a 5% chance of occurring.)

Did you answer yes to any of the questions? If so, you may have a hefty compensation check headed your way. Contact a competent medical malpractice lawyer and get what’s rightfully yours.

What Are The 4 D’s Of Medical Negligence?

To prove medical negligence and win your lawsuit, you need the 4 D’s of medical negligence: Duty, Dereliction, Direct causation and Damages. If you prove each of these, you prove malpractice and therefore you should win your case.

A group of paparazzi peer into the car of a famous person.

What Are The Most Famous Medical Lawsuits?

The most famous medical lawsuits in US history are as follows: 

► Michael Jackson’s doctor overdosed him with a cocktail of drugs including propofol. The doctor was ordered by the court to pay $100 million in restitution to the Jackson family.

► Julie Andrews (famous for Mary Poppins and Maria von Trapp movie roles) lost her voice due to a botched throat surgery, filed a malpractice lawsuit, and reached a settlement between the two parties. 

► Joan Rivers tragically lost her life to medical malpractice. Rivers’ daughter filed a malpractice suit which ended in a settlement, with the doctors accepting full responsibility for her death.

► Dana Carvey’s medical lawsuit ended up settling, being compensated $7.5 million after a botched open heart surgery where the doctor performed surgery on the wrong artery. 

In addition, Hulk Hogan, John Ritter, Andy Warhol, Dennis Quaid, Donda West (Kanye West’s mom), Ed McMahon, Bill Paxton and Elvis Presley are some of the many other famous medical lawsuits.

What Is The Average Value Of A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit? 

Every case is different of course, but generally, settlement value is around $425,000 on average and the average jury verdict is a little over $1 million. While these numbers are nowhere near adequate compensation, it may at least help soften the blow and cover the bills and other costs associated with the injury.

A clock sits on top of a table.

How Long Do Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Take?

Generally, medical lawsuits take six months to a year for the claim to settle, but sometimes it takes longer. If you don’t settle your case and instead move to a trial the time period lengthens. In many cases the time frame may be several years. The main difference between settling and going to court is the amount of time as well as the payout. Cases that reach a jury and win often receive much higher compensation. You can read more about this here. 

How Hard Is It To Prove Medical Malpractice?

To win a medical malpractice case there needs to be solid proof. This may include a number of things such as medical records, correspondence between the patient and medical provider, expert witness testimonies, and more.

How Do You Sue For Medical Malpractice?

The first step is to jot down every detail you can remember regarding the mistake. It can be easy to forget important details, so having a journal to look back on can be really helpful! Next, you’ll want to gather any and all documents you can.

From there, we recommend contacting a skilled medical malpractice law firm right away. Because each state has their own statute of limitations (the time-frame in which you can file a lawsuit) you’ll want to get things rolling right away. In a lot of ways thing will get a bit easier from here. Now you’ll have a legal professional on your side who can help guide you throughout the entire process. To prepare for your first meeting with an attorney we’ve created a blog post with lots of helpful information. You can check it out here.

Contact A Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you’re the victim of a healthcare error, there’s no reason to bear this burden alone. Medical malpractice and negligence can result in life changing consequences. You may experience physical trauma as well as mental anguish. In addition, many families also endure financial turmoil because of a medical mistake. Lost wages, mounting medical bills, and more. Some people even have to go on disability. It isn’t fair, but pursing a medical malpractice claim may be the smartest thing you can do.

Please don’t hesitate to contact our office with any and all questions. If given the opportunity we’ll skillfully represent you and do everything we can to help you get the compensation you deserve. To reach out to a member of our staff, please give our office a call or fill out this form.