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Jury awards $10.83 million in Blair County malpractice case

| Sep 29, 2020 | Medical Malpractice |

A Pennsylvania state court jury in Blair County has awarded $10.83 million in damages to a Tyrone, Pennsylvania, man who faces permanent, severe brain damage for the rest of his life after a trip to the hospital for an MRI to assess back pain.

The jury awarded $6.21 million for future medical costs and long-term care expenses, while the remaining amount is for past medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering, according to the Altoona Mirror.

The case’s details

The jury deliberated over whether a hospital and radiologist were negligent in how they reacted to the middle-aged plaintiff’s allergic reaction to gadolinium, a substance used during MRI administration. Specifically, the plaintiff argued that the hospital should have had an alarm in the MRI room to call for help, as well as a drug box armed with supplies to immediately counteract an allergic reaction, as hospital policy called for.

While the emergency room had the capacity to respond, the staff did not immediately take the patient there. In addition, while the MRI technician sounded the alarm in the MRI control center, the ER doctor did not recognize the sound of the alarm, so he did not know to respond. Then, the defendant-radiologist who did respond left the patient to get the ER doctor instead of administering a drug to reverse the allergic reaction.

The Mirror previously reported that the allergic reaction caused the patient’s heart to stop, followed by severe and permanent brain damage. The plaintiff alleged that the radiologist and hospital did not “follow policies and procedures that would have addressed [the] allergic reaction faster,” explained the Mirror.

The plaintiff called a neutral expert – a physician from another hospital – to testify regarding the appropriate standard of care in a case like this one. After deliberation, the jury assigned one-quarter of the negligence to the radiologist and three-quarters to the hospital.

Damages in Pennsylvania medical malpractice cases

In a Pennsylvania medical malpractice claim, the injured party must prove:

  • The medical professional owed a duty of care to the patient
  • The doctor or other professional breached the duty
  • The breach caused or was a substantial factor in harming the patient
  • The patient’s damages and losses were because of the harm

In the Blair County case, because the jury unanimously found that medical malpractice occurred, the defendants became liable for money damages to compensate the injured plaintiff for his losses and future needs.

In a case like this involving brain damage, an important component of compensation is for future long term supports. These can include:

  • Adaptations to a vehicle or home
  • Medical equipment
  • In-home nursing and staff to assist with daily living
  • The cost of being in a long-term residential facility

Anyone who suspects they received substandard medical care that injured them should speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Similarly, if someone dies due to medical negligence, the surviving loved ones should consult with a lawyer.