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Medical Malpractice

Jurors Assess “Strikes” and $38 Million Dollar Verdict Against Local Doctors

May.17. 2013

A Broward County jury assessed “strikes” against a doctor and an anesthesiologist who were involved in a medical procedure that left Dale Whyte, 33, with permanent brain injuries. Whyte, who went through a Manipulation under Anesthesia procedure at the Atlantic Surgical Center in Pompano Beach in December of 2008, never awoke from his anesthesia.

According to Robert W. Kelley, Whyte’s lawyer, this verdict is the first of its kind since the “Three-Strikes” amendment was passed by voters in 2004. Dale Whyte and his family also received $38.5 million dollars to compensate for their losses.

Dr. Basil Mangra, the doctor in charge of Whyte’s care, and anesthesiologist Dr. Thomas Rodenberg, were found guilty by the jury of negligence leading to the injury. Mangra admitted during the trial that the patient never should have been cleared for the procedure. Both doctors received career-threatening “strikes” under the Three Strikes Amendment, and Rodenberg’s medical license was suspended.

This verdict was described by Kelley as a great victory for patient safety, and plans were immediately made to present the results of the case to the Florida Board of Medicine. Kelley intends to collect the full amount of the verdict by collecting the full amount of the doctors’ insurance money as well as going after them personally for the remaining balance.

Whyte is now in the care of his sister, mother, and a team of nurses at their home in Lawrenceville, GA. Prior to the trial, his family entered into confidential settlements with other defendants who had a part in the accident.

Florida voters passed the “Three Strikes” amendment, also known as Amendment 8, in 2004. Under this amendment, doctors can now have their medical licenses revoked if they are found guilty of medical malpractice three times. The Florida Medical Association urged in 2005 that the legislature pass a law restricting the amendment by requiring proof of “clear and convincing” evidence before a jury’s verdict could result in a strike against a physician.

Emergency Room Error: $7 Million Recovery

Our client, a young boy, suffered permanent disabilities as a result of an emergency room error that caused him to experience a stroke after a head injury. The facility wanted to transfer him to another hospital because the boy’s family did not have private insurance. A dispute arose between the doctors at the two facilities, but no doctor would treat the boy - the facilities blamed each other for not intervening. The boy was left in a wheelchair for life. A $7 million recovery was made on behalf of the boy and his family.

$2.58 Million Dollar Confidential Settlement Reached

April.21. 2011

Birth injuries are devastating for parents who have been eagerly awaiting the birth of their child. What should be a joyful occasion may quickly turn to tragedy. Serious birth injuries such as brain injuries or paralysis can permanently alter the course of a child’s life. In many cases, birth injuries are easily preventable with proper and early diagnosis.

A doctor’s failure to diagnose a serious medical condition during pregnancy or medical negligence during labor and delivery can both cause serious and often fatal birth injuries. Cerebral palsy and Erb’s palsy (brachial plexus birth injuries) are two common forms of birth injuries caused by medical malpractice during delivery.

The physical impairments caused by severe birth injuries often require expensive on-going medical treatment and physical therapy. Sadly, the cost for such treatment is often more than most families can afford. If you have reason to believe your baby was severely injured or has died due to your doctor’s negligence, please contact a skilled Florida personal injury lawyer at Kelley-Uustal today for a review of your case.

Jury Awards $1.95M for Injuries Caused by Medication Mix-Up

April.20. 2011

A jury awarded a woman nearly $1.95 million for a brain injury claimed as a result of a medication mix-up.

In 2008, Minnie Guider, then 90, was found in a poor physical and mental state. She was brought to a hospital, where her condition improved despite doctors not being able to find what was wrong with her. Three weeks later, she became confused and disoriented, and had to be rehospitalized. It was discovered that Intramed, a mail-order pharmacy, had mixed up her medication. Guider claimed the incorrect medication caused her blood sugar to drop both times and caused a brain injury.

Intramed admitted mixing up the medication but claimed it did not injure her. Instead, defense argued Guider suffered an unrelated transient ischemic attack, or mini-stroke.

Case: Guider v. Intramed Inc., No. 09-68777(12)

Plaintiff lawyers: Todd R. McPharlin and Eric Rosen, Kelley/Uustal, Fort Lauderdale

Defense lawyers: Barry A. Postman and Jami L. Gursky, Cole Scott & Kissane, West Palm Beach and Plantation

1.2 Million Dollar Settlement in Birth Injury Case

April.09. 2011

$1.2 Million Dollar Settlement Reached with both Hospital and Doctors.

Failure to Diagnose Case Settled

April.01. 2011

A strictly confidential settlement was reached in a case against a hospital.

Failure to diagnose is a common form of medical malpractice in Florida. Unfortunately, doctors and other healthcare providers sometimes fail to recognize the symptoms of serious medical conditions, resulting in serious and life-threatening injuries to patients. In addition, medical care providers may fail to correctly diagnose a particular medical condition or fail to diagnose it in a timely manner, which can delay vital treatment. Unfortunately, many Florida medical malpractice cases involve potentially life-threatening medical conditions including cancer, strokes, or heart attacks. Without a prompt diagnosis and treatment, a patient’s chances of survival may be reduced dramatically.

It can be difficult to determine whether a doctor or other medical care provider’s actions constitute medical malpractice; therefore, it is vital to consult a qualified Florida medical malpractice accident lawyer for advice. If you or a loved one has suffered serious injuries or illness due to a doctor or health care provider’s failure to diagnose, please call a dedicated Florida medical malpractice personal injury lawyer at Kelley/Uustal today.

Confidential Settlement Reached in Case where Surgery Goes Wrong

March.24. 2011

A significant and confidential upfront settlement was obtained in a recent Florida surgical error medical malpractice case. In addition to the upfront settlement, we obtained lifetime, monthly periodic payments for our client.

Did the doctor do something wrong?

Our client underwent a spinal procedure to alleviate an existing medical problem, but her condition became worse after treatment. While the hospital and doctors claimed the medical complications were foreseeable and a result of our client’s condition, we held that the doctors made errors during surgery, which caused further injury to our client. During the presuit phase of this medical malpractice case, the hospital settled the case.

Individuals who suffer personal injuries due to medical malpractice are often entitled to file a claim against the doctor, hospital, or other healthcare provider responsible for their injuries; however, in Florida, medical malpractice cases are handled differently than in other states. Before filing a medical malpractice suit, an injured person must first fulfill Florida’s complex presuit discovery requirements, which involves a lengthy investigation by an attorney into a medical malpractice claim. This presuit discovery process is very time-consuming and costly, requiring the assistance of an experienced Florida medical malpractice attorney or personal injury lawyer. Failure to follow Florida’s presuit laws may result in your claim being barred.

The presuit requirements in Florida are in place to ensure that there is a reasonable basis for any medical malpractice claims submitted against doctors and other healthcare providers in Florida. The injured party must hire an attorney to perform legal duties, including investigating the claim, reviewing all relevant medical documents, and obtaining a written opinion from a medical expert.

If you are considering filing a Florida medical malpractice claim, contact the experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Kelley/Uustal.

Anesthesia Error Case: Confidential Settlement

Our client needed a hip-replacement operation from the hospital where he was an employee. Being familiar with their practice of providing nurse anesthetists instead of doctors, our client underwent the procedure upon the agreement that only a doctor anesthesiologist would administer anesthesia.

An anesthesiologist put our client to sleep for the operation and left once he was unconscious, leaving him under the care of a nurse. The nurse administered 11 liters of fluid and put our patient into fluid overload - most people only have 5 liters of blood on average. This caused our client to go into cardio-pulmonary arrest and to be deprived of oxygen.

As a result of the negligence of the hospital’s health care team, our client suffered significant brain injury. The case was settled for a multi-million dollar confidential settlement.

Bariatric Surgery Error: $1.5 Million Recovery

Our clients’ mother experienced intestinal blockage after undergoing bariatric surgery (a gastric bypass procedure). Because of the blockage, which is a recognized and correctable complication, food accumulated in her stomach and small bowel instead of moving through her digestive tract.

The accepted solution for this problem is to insert an “NG” tube (a naso-gastric tube that goes in the nose and down to the stomach to safely drain the stomach contents). The woman did not receive an NG tube and, during a second operation to remove the obstruction, vomited several liters of acidic fluid into her lungs, causing her to die from aspiration.

Kelley/Uustal was successful in recovering $1.5 million on behalf of her children from the surgeon, hospital, and anesthesiologist involved in the case.

Birth Injury Case

Our client was a young mother who, believing she might be in labor, went to a local hospital. At the hospital, nurses began electronic fetal monitoring and because the fetal monitoring strip was not reassuring, determined the baby needed help. The nurse testified that she called the doctor, and that the doctor did not want to be bothers. The doctor testified he had never received a call.

All health care providers present agreed the baby was in fetal distress and needed help. However, all blamed one another for the baby not receiving medical attention. It was hours before a doctor came in to deliver the baby, who by this time had suffered severe injuries. A significant recovery was secured for the family.

Failure to Diagnose Cancer: $2.5 Million Recovery

A young man experienced rectal bleeding visited his doctor. Because he was an HMO doctor and tests to screen for colon cancer would have been charged to the doctor, the tests were not ordered. Instead, the doctor diagnosed hemorrhoids and sent the man on his way. This continued to two years, with multiple visits each year.

Despite the fact that the man continued to experience rectal bleeding, abnormal stools, abdominal pain, weight loss, and eventually anemia from losing so much blood, the doctor continued to diagnose the problem as hemorrhoids. He eventually went to a gastroenterologist who quickly diagnosed his colon cancer (and the fact that the man never had hemorrhoids - the first doctor didn't even look!). Unfortunately, by this time it was too late. The first doctor had allowed the cancer to grow and spread.

A $2.5 million recovery was made on behalf of the cancer patient's five children.

Cardiology Case: Confidential Settlement

After the operation, the surgeon left the post-operative care to his nurse. In the days following the surgery at the hospital, the sutures leaked and the man bled into his chest. X-rays taken each day showed his lungs filling with blood. His lab values also showed he was losing blood. The doctor never saw him, however, and the nurse was not able to determine the problem.

When he lost so much blood that he became disoriented and confused from lack of blood and oxygen to his brain, the nurse diagnosed a panic attack and gave him Xanax to relax him. He died hours later after bleeding to death over the course of days in a hospital. A confidential settlement was reached.

Plastic Surgery Case: $2.2 Million Recovery

A woman underwent a tummy-tuck from a plastic surgeon despite the fact that she was overweight with high-blood pressure. During the procedure, her blood pressure was allowed to go dangerously low, and she arrested. The surgeons were unable to resuscitate her and she died. A $2.2 million recovery was made on behalf of the woman's husband and children.

Failure to Diagnose Case: Confidential Settlement

Kelley / Uustal represented the case of a woman who was told by medical professionals that she had a very aggressive form of cancer after she discovered a lump on her breast. The diagnosis was given to her after doctors performed a biopsy, at which time she was informed that she would need to have both of her breasts removed.

After removing the woman's breasts, the hospital was unable to find cancer in them. They took almost 100 samples from her tissue and looked at them under the microscope, but they were all normal. They told the woman that they must have gotten all the cancer out when they did the biopsy.

The woman consulted with us because she thought there was a delay in diagnosing her cancer. We reviewed the medical records and suspected something different had happened. We had the original biopsy slide DNA tested and compared it with the woman's DNA. They were not the same - the lab had switched the slides!

The woman was told she had cancer when she didn't, and another woman who had cancer was told that her biopsy was normal. One woman had both of her breasts removed for nothing, and another woman had an aggressive cancer left in her body because of a laboratory technician's mistake. A confidential settlement was reached.

HMO Negligence Case: $7 Million Recovery

An example of an HMO case that Kelley / Uustal was involved in is the case of a 6-year-old girl who was taken to her pediatrician because she was experiencing persistent vomiting. Her pediatrician correctly recognized that when vomiting persists for long periods it can be a sign of a brain tumor. He ordered a CT scan. The request was rejected by the HMO as "not medically indicated." Months later, the little girl started screaming and holding her head. The tumor was allowed to expand to the point that it killed her. It turned out to be a benign tumor that was fast-growing but would have been very treatable back when the CT was rejected by the HMO. A $7 million recovery was made for the family.

Ophthalmology Medical Error Case: Confidential Settlement

We represented a woman who went to an optometrist for years for glasses and routine check-ups. She started experiencing flashes, spots, and vision disturbances. Her optometrist performed a cursory exam and said everything looked normal. She went back to him several times over the next year-and-a-half as the problem got worse; each time, the same cursory exam was performed and the same reassurance from her doctor was given.

Eventually our client switched doctors and was diagnosed with a cancer in her eye that was so big it took up 60% of the volume of her eye. It could be seen just by looking into her eye with a flashlight, yet the doctor she saw a month earlier didn't diagnose it. A multi-million dollar confidential settlement was reached.

Radiology Case: Confidential Settlement

A gentleman who was in a car accident saw a radiologist. A radiology study was performed on his spine, which showed an area where a broken piece of bone was compressing the spinal cord. The study was read as "normal." Due to the radiologist's mistake, the man went on to become paralyzed. A confidential settlement was reached.

Surgical Mistake Case: Confidential Settlement

A young man underwent back surgery. Following the surgery he became pale, cold, short of breath, disoriented, and anemic. His doctors and nurses failed to recognize that during the procedure they had nicked an artery that began bleeding into his abdominal cavity - and that his post-operative condition was due to this ongoing blood loss. Eventually, he lost so much blood that he arrested and was left with a brain injury. What's worse is that the back surgery during which all of this happened was botched and had to be re-done in a later back surgery by a different doctor! A confidential settlement was reached.

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