Why seemingly obvious malpractice cases can take years to resolve

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Why seemingly obvious malpractice cases can take years to resolve

| Jun 15, 2020 | Medical Malpractice |

It’s every parent’s nightmare to send a child in for what seems to be routine surgery and have a catastrophic injury occur. News out of New York this week is a good reminder of how horrifying such an incident is, and the legal repercussions that can be pursued.

The parents of a young Staten Island boy settled a medical malpractice lawsuit for $12.5 million arising from the amputation of the young boy’s leg after he went into surgery to have his tonsils removed. A report on the incident says the boy was 5 when he underwent surgery in 2015 at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston to remove his tonsils and adenoids.

Complications arose requiring emergency resuscitation. During that procedure, doctors intentionally punctured the boy’s femoral arteries to try to establish lines in them. Post-surgery, doctors and nurses were aware they needed to closely monitor circulation in the boy’s legs to make sure blood clots did not occur. However, blood clots did occur in the boy’s right leg, and a pulse could not be found. Ultimately, the leg had to be amputated.

Settlements Can Take Years

The case is a good reminder that complex medical malpractice cases involving catastrophic injuries can take years to resolve. The boy is now 10, and he uses a prothesis and a wheelchair to get around.

A spokesperson for St. Barnabas Medical Center said, “despite extraordinary efforts by all clinicians involved, a rare life-threatening event occurred during his hospital admission.” The hospital agreed to a settlement while denying any wrongdoing on the part of the physicians and nurses.

What’s Behind The Lengthy Cases

It is common for medical malpractice cases that may seem to have an obvious conclusion to stretch out for years. There are many reasons for this.

  • Medical malpractice cases require meticulous review of all medical records by numerous medical professionals. There may be teams of medical experts from both sides that must be deposed.
  • Insurance companies for hospitals or medical professionals may deliberately stretch out litigation with hopes that the plaintiff may lose patience and settle for less than they deserve.
  • Court cases are backlogged due to underfunding and other reasons.
  • Medical malpractice cases are aggressively defended. Insurance companies will let the discovery process play out over a lengthy time period to continue to assess their chances of winning at trial. Many cases are resolved only as the trial date nears and the defense team determines it’s wiser to settle out of court.

It is critical to work with a knowledgeable and experienced medical malpractice lawyer who understands how persistence and patience will pay off in the end. Make sure your medical malpractice attorney will keep you informed about the status of your case at all times.