We are looking at a birth injury case in Rhode Island which has given us occasion to look at medical malpractice verdicts and settlements in Rhode Island. This is just for general information.
- 2019, Rhode Island: $6,000,000 Settlement. This is just a tragic maternal death. A 21-year-old woman was expecting her first child. Her prenatal course was normal, and she arrived at the hospital to deliver her child a week after the due date. Her labor and delivery team planned for her to undergo cervical ripening by administering Misoprostol before inducing labor. However, Misoprostol was not approved for cervical ripening and there could be potential for serious complications to occur. A first-year resident gave the first dose of Misoprostol to the woman. At that time, the attending physician, who was not employed by the hospital, was at home but available via telephone. The woman’s contraction patterns became more frequent and intense shortly after receiving Misoprostol. The attending physician told the resident that she could only give Misoprostol if the contractions became irregular and infrequently. Despite the woman’s contractions being more frequent and consistent, the resident administered a second dose. The woman’s uterus contracted intensely. Fetal bradycardia developed and her cervix enlarged rapidly. Her cervix and uterus tore during the delivery. The baby was successfully resuscitated. However, the cervical and uterine tears caused a significant post-partum hemorrhage. The labor and delivery team attempted to save her, but she died from shock and multi-organ failure. Her son thankfully survived without any residual injuries. The woman’s family alleged that the hospital failed to properly oversee their resident and the resident negligently administered a second dose of Misoprostol. They claim that the woman would have survived had there been no second dose. The case would eventually settle for $6,000,000.
- 2019, Rhode Island: $36,330,000 Verdict. A 58-year-old woman visited a hospital with back pain and a recent MRSA skin infection. During her second visit, an MRI revealed signs of an infection. However, the radiologist interpreted the MRI as normal. She returned two days later, with sepsis. The woman was hospitalized for an extended period because the hospital staff failed to diagnose and treat her infection. She ultimately underwent amputations to both her legs below-the-knee and eight fingers. The woman also suffered respiratory failure, kidney failure, and a heart attack that disrupted her circulation to her brain. The jury awarded $36,330,000.
- 2018, Rhode Island: $40,000,000 Verdict. A 55-year-old man visited the emergency room, complaining of unintended weight loss, exhaustion, and back pain. He was taking Warfarin, a blood thinner, at the time to take care of his congenital blood-clotting disorder. The ER doctors instructed him to stop taking it for about ten days to prepare for a colonoscopy. They discharged him, and he stopped taking Warfarin. Four days after being discharged, she experienced hyper-coagulation and was readmitted. The man was under the care of doctors who planned a lymph node biopsy, rather than a bone marrow biopsy. After the biopsy, the man was instructed to retake his medication. This order would be canceled, and he ordered to stop taking Warfarin until a week after the biopsy. A few days later, he became ill and experienced significant blood clotting in his lungs and legs. He returned to the ER, where the staff gave him blood thinners. The blood clots caused gangrene to his right leg, which would be ultimately amputated. He filed suit, accusing the physicians of taking him off his blood thinners, which ultimately resulted in blood clots that caused his amputation. After an eight-day trial, the Providence jury awarded $40,000,000 in damages. The final judgment totaled $62,000,000, which included pre-judgment interest.
- 2017, Rhode Island: $61,606,575 Verdict. A 55-year-old man’s major health conditions around the time of his visit were anxiety, depression, and a blood clot disorder. He was put on daily blood thinners, such as Coumadin and Warfarin, for about 10 years. His primary care physician took him off his anticoagulants because of his abnormal blood levels and because of a planned colonoscopy and endoscopy. He visited the hospital a week later, complaining of low back pain, fatigue, and weight loss. He also went to the hospital a day later for the colonoscopy and endoscopy. The hospital staff instructed him to stay off his medications for two more days. He then visited the hospital two days later, feeling very ill. Laboratory tests revealed hypercoagulable blood, and he was put on anticoagulants again. However, he was taken off them a day later because he had low platelet levels. He would undergo a bone marrow biopsy, which was not useful for his diagnosis. A physician recommended that anticoagulation medicine be restarted and that he would undergo a biopsy. However, he was to not take an anticoagulant until the hospital staff performed the biopsy. The man would be discharged home. He became ill, developed severe clots in both legs, and suffered a pulmonary embolism. The man visited the emergency room, where staff administered a high dose of anticoagulants. His right leg eventually became gangrenous and necrotic, which resulted in its amputation. The man sued the treating physicians and the hospital for failing to restart his anticoagulants. His expert testified that if they restarted his anticoagulants, his leg would have been saved. The jury awarded the man a $61,606,575 verdict.
- 2016, Rhode Island: $5,500,000 Verdict. A 48-year-old woman had a medical history of back injuries, in which she underwent lumbar spinal fusion surgery. This procedure was deemed unsuccessful because she experienced significant pain and discomfort. Her treating neurosurgeon recommended she should undergo another procedure to eliminate her injuries. Ten years after the lumbar spinal fusion, the same neurosurgeon performed a lumbar laminectomy and fusion on her. This comprised the insertion of hardware from L1 to L5. It was deemed successful. She remained in the hospital for a few days to treat her cerebral spinal fluid leakage. The hospital staff then discharged her home, and she felt well at the time. She then saw a physician’s assistant, who deemed the wound and her general health to be good. They also determined that she undergo an MRI to rule out a potential infection and fluid drainage. The woman felt uncomfortable with an MRI but agreed to have her fluid tested. The next day, she had fluid removed and the gram stain results showed the presence of bacteria. The hospital laboratory technician entered the results but failed to contact the radiologist or surgeon because she felt that no phone call was needed. The physicians were never told about the results. Two days later, the woman’s condition deteriorated quickly. Her wound site contained pus, and she arrived at the emergency room with sepsis signs. However, she received no formal sepsis diagnosis. The woman was hospitalized for seven weeks and transferred to a rehabilitation facility for seven additional weeks. She sustained an open spinal found and underwent two additional surgeries to repair her spinal damage. However, they were unsuccessful, and the woman now experienced significant pain. She also used a cane to walk. The woman sued the physicians, the hospital, and the radiologist for negligence. The physicians denied negligence, claiming that they should have been notified by the laboratory of her results. The hospital claimed that the physicians should have checked examined her results, which were in her medical records. After a two-week trial, the Providence County jury awarded a $5,500,000 verdict.