When James Hoznor, 66, developed throat problems, a Veterans Administration (VA) physician ordered an x-ray. The results showed an abnormality at the base of Hoznor’s tongue.

After Hoznor consulted a VA otolaryngologist, a primary care physician Dr. Cornelio Honge told Hoznor that he had a swollen salivary gland and prescribed antibiotics.

For more than a year, Hoznor’s symptoms continued, including swelling of the glands in his neck. Hoznor later sought out an opinion from a non-VA medical provider. A later biopsy showed that Hoznor unfortunately had Stage IV squamous cell carcinoma of the throat and tongue.
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Doe was 32 when he was taken to Roe Hospital’s emergency room suffering from abdominal distention, constipation and discomfort. There were a large number of patients in the emergency room at the time Doe came in. In the emergency department, Mr. Doe was brought to a hallway because of the overcrowding where hospital nurses attended to him. Over the course of several hours, Doe’s symptoms worsened. Hospital nurses administered a Fleet enema.

A later CT scan revealed that Mr. Doe had a bowel perforation. Surgery was considered but deemed to be too late. Mr. Doe suffered septic shock and then died a day later.

The lawsuit against the hospital alleged that it chose not to timely diagnose and treat Doe’s bowel perforation, which led to his untimely death. Before trial, the parties settled for $950,000.
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Dwayne Kenney suffered a fractured left leg in a motorcycle crash. He underwent open reduction and internal fixation surgery, which was performed by an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Cyrus Kump II. Kenney suffered complications and, suspecting an infection, Dr. Kump removed the plates and screws from his leg approximately three months later. During that procedure, Dr. Kump was unable to close the skin over Kenney’s exposed tibia. Nevertheless, Dr. Kump ordered only dressing changes for the next four weeks, leaving the wound open to the air.

Six months later, a plastic surgeon attempted to cover Kenney’s exposed bone. Kenney contracted MRSA, osteomyelitis, and the procedure failed in less than two weeks. Several months after that, Kenney’s left leg required amputation. Although it was not reported, it may be assumed that the amputation was below the knee.

Kenney sued Dr. Kump and his practice alleging that Kump chose not to place an external fixator to stabilize the fractured tibia during the second surgery and decided not to timely consult a plastic surgeon to address an exposed tibia within five days of the procedure. The exposure of the bone to air led to the infection, which included osteomyelitis.
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Samuel Chifalo, 63, fell and hit his head. An ambulance crew arrived and put a cervical collar on before taking him to Parkview Medical Center.

At the hospital, the staff noted that Chifalo had difficulty moving his arms and legs. Nevertheless, emergency room physician Dr. Ashley Ostrand did not document this condition after doing a physical exam and recording Chifalo’s medical history. The doctor ordered CT scans of Chifalo’s neck and head and discharged him from the hospital with a referral to an orthopedic surgeon.

The next day, Chifalo was unable to walk and returned to the emergency room at the same hospital. This time Dr. Ostrand ordered MRIs of his head and cervical and thoracic spinal cord regions. Chifalo was then diagnosed as having a spinal cord injury at C3-4 with quadriparesis. Despite rehabilitation, Chifalo continued to suffer from paralysis.
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Then 2-year-old Doe was taken to a children’s hospital after suffering a fall. A pediatric resident, Dr. James Prosser, set Doe’s fractured right arm and placed a cast on the arm. Later that day, Doe was returned to the hospital, where another physician examined him again and discharged him.

Doe’s parents took the child back to the same hospital a third time. This time the staff removed the child’s cast. This led to a diagnosis of compartment syndrome and Volkmann’s ischemic contracture.

Doe is now 19 years old and has a deformed and shortened right arm, scarring, and lost function in two of his fingers.
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Gail Ingram was 61 years old when she went to a hospital emergency room complaining of abdominal pain. She underwent a CT scan, which was interpreted by radiologist Dr. Barbara Blanco as showing possible pancreatitis, a gallstone and no acute bowel findings.

After a four-day hospital stay, Ingram was instructed to consult her primary care physician and was discharged. Less than two years later, she returned to the emergency room suffering from abdominal pain once again. The CT scan this time revealed a 4-cm lung mass, which led to a lung cancer diagnosis.

Ingram, whose cancer was diagnosed then at Stage IV, died just a month later. She was survived by her husband and two adult children.
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Lilia Torres, 34, began spotting during the eighth week of her pregnancy. She went to a hospital where she had an ultrasound. She later followed up with her treating obstetrician after receiving a diagnosis of placental previa and possible placental accrete, a condition in which the placenta attaches too deeply to the uterine wall. For the remaining period of her pregnancy, she saw several obstetricians and midwives at the same medical practice.

At 39 weeks of gestation, two of the obstetricians performed a cesarean section the day after the procedure was scheduled. After the delivery, Torres suffered massive blood loss.

Torres, who lost at least ten liters of blood, suffered cardiogenic and pulmonary shock. Shortly afterward, she died of complications of hemorrhagic shock and multi-organ failure. She was survived by her husband and her four minor children.
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Rickie Lee Huitt, 65, consulted a urologist at The Iowa Clinic after receiving his prostate cancer screening results. The urologist ordered a biopsy, which was sent to the clinic’s anatomical laboratory for interpretation.

The pathologist, Dr. Joy Trueblood, the laboratory’s director, examined Huitt’s slides and reported that she had found cancer in both sides of his prostate.

Huitt then met with the neurologist who told him that he required a radical prostatectomy to survive his cancer. The surgery left Huitt with erectile dysfunction and incontinence.
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Often we hear about large awards paid to patients who were injured in hospitals or other health care facilities. An unusually large award was announced in the case of a brain-damaged woman. It is something of a landmark award because of the amount of money involved. The city announced it planned to appeal the award.

A Bronx jury awarded about $120 million to a woman who has been incapacitated since she was treated at three New York hospitals in 2004.

The award, by a State Supreme Court jury, was made in a lawsuit filed on behalf of Jacqueline Martin by her mother. Martin suffered brain damage after a series of hospital visits in February 2004.
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The patient-physician relationship is built on trust — the patient trusts that his or her doctor is acting within the standard of care and the physician trusts that the patient is following orders. In this Illinois medical malpractice case, both parties argued that the other violated this mutual trust. The plaintiff argued that the defendant doctor acted negligently, while the doctor argued that the plaintiff failed to follow his medical advice.

The case arose after the 19-year-old plaintiff developed lithium toxicity. The defendant psychiatrist, Dr. John Huh, had prescribed the plaintiff lithium for her bipolar disorder.This in itself was not unusual. Lithium is often prescribed to treat patients with bipolar disorder due to its ability to reduce the frequency and severity of bipolar depression.

However, lithium carries with it some fairly serious side effects, including muscle weakness, sudden hair loss, poor concentration, drowsiness, vomiting, and diarrhea. In order to prevent these serious side effects, physicians regularly monitor the levels of lithium in a patient’s blood stream, adjusting the dosage as necessary. However, in this case, Dr. Huh failed to obtain regular blood draws, thereby missing the warning signs that the plaintiff was developing lithium toxicity.
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