Paralyzed vet awarded $8.3 million

In a story that may interest military veterans in New York, an ex-Army vet won a malpractice lawsuit against a St. Louis hospital run by the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs on No. 18. In 2009, the 43-year-old man was admitted to the VA hospital for chest pains, but the cardiac stent insertion he received led to serious side effects, including paralysis.

According to reports, the two-day trial over the surgical errors resulted in a U.S. district judge awarding the man $6.8 million. An additional $1.5 million was awarded to the man's wife, who serves as his main caregiver.

During the proceedings, attorneys attested to the fact that after the veteran received the initial surgery via his inner thigh, the entry site became swollen and bloodied. He was readmitted to the hospital to repair a damaged artery in the affected leg, but lawyers said that the unnecessary delay between the initial procedure and the corrective work contributed to subsequent problems. Furthermore, the surgeons who performed the second operation apparently patched the damaged area with tissue that was already contaminated, resulting in the limb becoming severely infected and eventually being amputated. Other major complications included significant blood loss during the procedures; this resulted in brain damage that left the man largely uncommunicative.

Medical accidents may result in worse symptoms or ailments than the patients were initially hospitalized for. These errors can result in excessively high medical bills for the extra treatment needed to correct complications and successive problems, and some families have difficulty paying for disability care when their hospitals keep charging them. Attorneys may be able to assist malpractice victims by investigating prior incidents at the healthcare facilities in question or pursuing legal action.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "St. Louis man wins $8.3 million malpractice award against John Cochran VA hospital", Blythe Bernhard, November 19, 2013

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