When people in Oregon seek treatment for an illness or injury, they expect to receive care from the hospital staff and physicians that meets the recognized standard of care. Unfortunately, that doesn't always happen. As a result, patients can be injured or even die. Lawsuits for hospital negligence, medical malpractice and doctor errors seek to hold those responsible for a patient's death or worsened condition.
A jury awarded the boy, now 4 years old, and his family $12 million in their medical negligence suit against a surgeon and Oregon Health and Science University. The boy underwent an operation in 2009 that went horribly wrong. The surgeons "cut the wrong blood vessels," which resulted in the boy's need for an emergency liver transplant.
OHSU wanted the jury's award to be capped at $3 million; however, a judge in a Multnomah County court ruled that such a sizeable decrease in the jury's award would be "constitutionally inadequate." The hospital argued that the common law in Oregon doesn't allow for the negligence claim against the surgeon. This was based on OHSU's belief that the surgeon was a government employee and had "immunity for discretionary acts."
An attorney for the parents and boy argued against that, saying that the surgical error requiring a liver transplant did not constitute a "discretionary act." The attorney also isn't certain why OHSU continues to fight against the judgment because there is a $35 million insurance policy that would cover the award.
To date, the hospital has paid the family $3 million, but there are still massive medical bills - $2.6 million - due to cover the cost of the liver transplant and care. That amount doesn't cover the future treatment needed by the boy, either.
Medical and hospital negligence cases are not as common as most people might think; however, when someone you love is injured due to a doctor or hospital not meeting the recognized standard of care, there may be few alternative actions. An experienced personal injury attorney can explain what your options are in seeking compensation.
Source: oregonlive.com, "OHSU lawsuit: Judge retains jury's $12 million verdict, despite hospital's push to reduce award" Helen Jung, Nov. 22, 2013