Jury Verdict of $2.7 Million For Failure To Perform Surgery

DBJ earned a big result for a woman who became a paraplegic after a minor car accident when a neurosurgeon failed to perform emergency surgery was awarded $2.75 million by a Buchanan County, Missouri jury.

Despite a broken vertebra that was pressing against her spinal cord, the woman could move her legs, feet, and toes after the accident. The neurosurgeon decided to delay surgery until his partner returned from vacation.

The nurses were supposed to test the woman for neurological function on an hourly basis and inform him of any changes. Emergency surgery would be performed if her condition deteriorated. The plaintiff’s condition worsened, no surgery was performed, and she is now a paraplegic.

Essential to the case was establishing that the doctor was the hospital’s agent. “A hospital is not ordinarily liable for the negligent acts of its doctors,” said plaintiff’s attorney Grant L. Davis of DBJ. “We had to show an agency relationship existed between the neurosurgeon and hospital.”

The nurses were shown to be negligent in not noticing the plaintiff’s neurological deterioration because they were recording medical conclusions rather than data on her chart. “A phrase like ‘Neuro’s unchanged’ doesn’t tell the doctor anything,” Davis said. “He needs data from the tests so he can decide if her condition has changed in a significant way.”

The $2.75 million verdict included $1 million in non-economic damages. The jury apportioned 50% of the fault to the doctor and 50% to the nurses.

Please call DBJ today at 1-800-875-5972 for a free consultation.

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