$4.25 Million Jury Verdict for Failure to Screen for Infectious Process

James Woodard was 64 years old and underwent the first of a two-part elective back surgery at the University of New Mexico Hospital. While Woodard was hospitalized, he was unknowingly exposed to MRSA, an infectious process that is hard to eradicate and usually contracted in hospitals.

One month after the first surgical procedure, Woodard underwent pre-operative procedures at the same hospital in anticipation of the second portion of his back surgery. After his second surgery, a nasal swab was positive for MRSA. Blood cultures returned two weeks later confirmed this finding. Woodard developed spinal osteomyelitis, a bone infection, and had numerous treatments, including surgeries, antibiotics and debridement to try remove the infection. Woodard required 135 days of hospital care and treatment at a rehabilitation facility.

He still requires medical care and now requires a wheelchair because of his condition. Woodard had been a city employee who planned to retire in just a few years.

Woodard and his wife sued the Board of Regents of the University of New Mexico, which operates this hospital, alleging liability for choosing not to preoperatively screen Woodard for MRSA and implement MRSA infection control measures that would have prevented him from contracting the infection while hospitalized.

The lawsuit also alleged that the hospital staff should have treated Woodard’s MRSA for two weeks before receiving the blood test results. Apparently the hospital did nothing to try to eradicate the infection while awaiting the blood test results.

The jury signed a verdict for $4.25 million, which included $250,000 to Woodard’s wife for loss of consortium. The trial court denied the hospital’s motion for a new trial and its motion to reduce the jury’s verdict. The court held that although $950,000 was recoverable from the hospital, the Woodards must petition the state legislature for the remaining amount of the award under New Mexico law.

The attorneys representing the Woodard family were Amalia S. Lucero and Lisa K. Curtis.

Woodard v. Board of Regents of the University of New Mexico, No. D-202-CV-2013-07974 (N.M. Dist. Ct. Bernalillo County).

Kreisman Law Offices has been successfully handling medical negligence lawsuits, hospital negligence cases, birth trauma injury lawsuits and physician negligence cases for individuals, families and the loved ones who have been injured, harmed or killed by the negligence of a medical provider for more than 40 years, in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Midlothian, Palos Park, Worth, Hickory Hills, Burr Ridge, Arlington Heights, Brookfield, Cicero, Joliet, Highland Park, Kenilworth, Glendale Heights, Hinsdale, Evergreen Park, Schiller Park, Skokie, Chicago (Horner Park, Hegewisch, Greek Town, Gold Coast, Garfield Ridge, Englewood, East Garfield Park, Princeton Park, Printer’s Row), Dolton, Calumet City and Blue Island, Ill.

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