Patient Awarded $75 Million In “Locked-In Syndrome” Malpractice Case
Doctors are supposed to provide patients with the best care possible. Unfortunately, a Georgia man received a series of poor care in 2015, causing him to suffer a rare disease known as locked-in syndrome. He was recently awarded $75 million in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
The Georgia man was just 32 years old when he received chiropractic care for his neck and collapsed during the procedure. Imaging showed that the man suffered a brainstem stroke at the time. He should have received immediate medical treatment. However, doctors could not determine what was wrong with him. They did not agree on a diagnosis until his second day in the hospital.
By then, it was too late. His brain became so severely damaged that he developed locked-in syndrome. This permanent condition causes a person to be paralyzed but conscious and unable to move. Cognition is not affected. There is no cure nor is there any standard course of treatment. In rare cases, patients may regain certain functions, but that is very rare.
In the man’s case, he can only control his eyes. He cannot feel or control any other muscle groups, giving him the feeling that he is trapped inside his own body.
On October 20, a jury awarded the man $75 million — $46 million in civil damages and an additional $29 million for medical expenses. Liability was split 60/40: 60% for the ER doctor and 40% on a radiologist. All other doctors who were listed as defendants were cleared of liability. They include a physician assistant, a neurologist, and the nursing staff at North Fulton Regional Hospital.
The radiologist read the patient’s imaging with the sole intent of determining whether one of his arteries was torn. His attorney compared the stroke to a forest fire, claiming that the radiologist’s job was to identify the smoke, which he did.
The patient’s attorney made the stronger case, though. His testimony from medical experts sealed the deal. They told the courtroom that earlier treatment would have likely led to a better outcome for the man. Had he been treated promptly, he might not be paralyzed.
The man lost an unknown number of brain cells while he was in the hospital, unable to move or talk. All the while, the ER doctors could not get their act together and medically treat the man. Time was of the essence in this case.
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Doctors make mistakes from time to time. They’re human. It happens. But they should pay up when their negligence causes a patient to suffer life-changing injuries.
An Alpharetta personal injury lawyer from Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers can assist you with your case. Medical malpractice cases can be complex, but our experienced team will work hard to help you get the compensation you deserve. Schedule a free consultation today by filling out the online form or calling 770-685-6400. The firm serves Georgia, including Atlanta, Dunwoody, Alpharetta, Cobb County, Fulton County, Gwinnett County, Johns Creek, and Sandy Springs.