Sunday, July 4, 2010

EMT Loses Lawsuit for $10 Million

(via White Coat and Kevin MD)

I was incredulous to read about the case of the EMT service sued for negligence for transporting a pregnant woman to a tertiary care center in Florida. The woman went into labor in the ambulance and the heroic paramedics had to deliver a breeched 25 week-old baby and then resuscitate him en route to the hospital. The boy lived but ended up with cerebral palsy secondary to prolonged hypoxia during the delivery. The doctors and hospitals had both settled the case for $1.4 million. The EMT company didn't feel it needed to settle, thinking there was no way they could lose at trial. They lost. And the verdict was for 10 million buckaroos.

Apparently, the plaintiffs attorney was able to successfully argue that the paramedics ought to have performed a thorough, independent evaluation of the pregnant mother prior to departure and then refused to transport her; in essence, they should have overruled the judgment of the physicians involved in the case. And they also ought to have resuscitated the child as well as any tertiary care NICU. Even though they weren't physicians. While in a speeding ambulance.

But we don't need tort reform, right?


Gia's Spot said...

That is just downright assinine! Greed wins again, the real American dream!

Sergiu said...

That's bull****. I wonder how much of those buckaroos went to the attorney?

Attorney Andy said...

For every one of these cases, you can point to 10 in which someone was hurt because of blatant medical negligence and the jury returned a defense verdict. Indivdiual anecdotes do not provide justification for tort reform; they are avaiable to both sides of the issue. We don't need tort reform. Our jury system is based on the collective judgment of individuals, and is not infallable. This verdict (as described by you -- I don't know the underlying facts) appears to be egregiously wrong. That doesn't require deforming our entire justice system.

The attorney probably received 1/3 plus expenses, just like in the vast majority of cases. How much did you bill for the last surgery you performed, Sergiu?

Jeffrey Parks MD FACS said...

You admit this case represents an abrogation of justice. You write that patients harmed by negligence aren't fairly compensated. Without my intercession, you seem to be arguing for malpractice reform all by yourself!

This case is the quintessential example of how a "lotto" based method of arbitrarily awarding huge sums to some victims while failing to compensate the majority of patients harmed and needlessly subjecting physicians to the stress of unwarranted depositions and interrogations of their conduct needs to be reformed. Make an argument against a "health court". Make a argument against the idea of codifying the affidavit of merit process whereby some asshole doctor-for-hire signs off on a ludicrous malpractice claim. I'd love to hear it.

Michael Kirsch, M.D. said...

I think that the child's father should be sued. I strongly suspect that his sperm is the proximate cause of the malpositioned fetus.

DKV said...

Well said Buckeye, AA is a fool who wants the status quo. We'd be better with a system that took care of people who were actually hurt by negligence, eliminated BS lawsuits, and removed the monetary incentive from plaintiff's attorneys.

Anonymous said...

how in the hell did a 25 weeker with prolonged hypoxia during delivery even survive?