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Negligent migraine treatment leaves woman paralyzed

A 12 person jury has awarded a woman one of the highest medical malpractice settlements in the country. The $22 million verdict came after weeks of trial extensive expert testimony.

The woman originally went in to hospital for testing and treatment related to a migraine in 2006. She suffered from a stroke when doctors pursued the wrong treatment and injected her with a special dye to view a vein in her brain that was unrelated to the migraine issue. She went in to a coma for two weeks, and woke up without use of her arms and legs. She requires around-the-clock care and is confined to a wheelchair.

Before the stroke, the woman had been working as a property manager and was married with two children. She is now divorced, but is still an active parent.

The substantial verdict took in to account the cost of her care as well as pain and suffering. She may actually receive far less than she was awarded by the jury, since there is a cap for pain and suffering awards at $250,000 under the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act. The majority of the award, $16 million, was designated for her care.

As evidenced by the strict statutory limits on pain and suffering awards, this part of a jury verdict is often looked upon as optional. However, this case is one example of medical malpractice causing significant pain and suffering that clearly diminishes the woman’s quality of life. These types of awards may be controversial, but there are many cases that show why it is necessary.

In our next post, we’ll discuss tips from patient safety advocates on how to be a more informed patient.

Source: Mercury News, “Menlo Park woman receives $22 million medical malpractice verdict,” Jason Green, March 21, 2012.

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