Negligent Doctor Forced to Pay for His Carelessness
A $1.8 Million medical malpractice claim was paid by an insurance company following a Newport News jury's verdict that a doctor misdiagnosed a young woman's heart condition.
The 25-year old woman went to the emergency room complaining about a shortness of breath five months after having a baby. The X-rays showed that she had an enlarged heart, as well as swelling in her legs and her electrocardiogram was abnormal. The doctor mis-diagnosed the victim with hepatitis based on her having a high count of liver enzymes.
Later, it was determined that she had a rare heart condition as a result of the childbirth. If the woman had been properly diagnosed, she could have been treated with medicine and would not have needed a transplant.
Experts hired by the insurance company that defended the negligent doctor testified that certain “tell-tale” signs of heart failure were missing, and so, in their opinion (for which they were compensated by the insurance company) they did not believe the doctor was negligent. After hearing evidence from both the victim and the doctor, the jury disagreed.
Upon deliberating for about three hours, the jury actually awarded $4 Million Dollars to the victim as fair compensation for past and future expenses and losses as a result of the doctor's negligence. Factors taken into account included past and future medical expenses, lost earnings over a lifetime, and an amount to try to make right the degree of pain and suffering associated with the process.
Even though the jury weighed all these factors, the insurance company successfully had the award reduced. The insurance industry has successfully promoted a law in Virginia that limits (caps) damages for a doctor’s malpractice without regard to the victim’s unique circumstances. So the verdict was reduced to $1.8 million.