What this Virginia Medical Malpractice Case list is "all about"
The medical malpractice verdicts, settlements and results published on this page are examples of malpractice cases in Virginia. This list is obviously not exhaustive. The results published here by medical malpractice attorney Ben Glass are compiled from various sources, including news source, published and unpublished case reports and "word of mouth" reports. The Virginia State Bar requires that I tell you that this list is intended to be interesting but it is not intended to represent what may be recovered in any given case. (But you already knew that anyway!) Each case is different but the more informed you are the better off you will be--always.
Virginia malpractice attorney Ben Glass has written Why Most Medical Malpractice Victims Never Recover a Dime the Ultimate Guide to Winning Medical Malpractice Cases in Virginia.
In a verdict returned on February 5, 2007 a Norfolk jury found Drs. James O. Carleo and Charles Cole and Emergency Physicians of Tidewater responsible for the death of Tiffany Danielle Wood.
Tiffany’s family, through their attorneys Lewis Stoneburner and Wallace Wason, alleged that the defendants failed to appropriately evaluate a seizure and convulsions and loss of consciousness that Tiffany suffered on a basketball court.
The defendants allegedly diagnosed Tiffany with a “simple faint.” Tiffany’s parents returned her to the emergency department the next day where, despite being told that the event of the prior day was described by bystanders as a “seizure” the emergency room physician ordered sinus films despite an absence of sinus drainage, fever or other complaints consistent with sinusitis.
Two weeks later Tiffany suffered a massive seizure and ultimately brain death.
Experts for the plaintiff testify that Tiffany was born with an arterio-venus malformation (AVM) in her brain. They testified that she suffered a leak of the AVM on the basketball court and that had the defendants initiated a proper workup the AVM would have been discovered and treated. Had it been treated, the experts testified, Tiffany had a 90 percent chance of surviving the AVM.
The plaintiff presented to Mary Washington Hospital’s emergency department with a painful boil on his posterior. He was seen in the emergency department by a physician and then by surgeon Robert Harry, M.D. The plaintiff alleged that Dr. Harry discharged the patient the next day making no mention of fever, labs or tachycardia and, when the plaintiff called the next day, allegedly Dr. Harry told them that his symptoms were to be expected.
Two days later the patient returned to Dr. Harry with Fournier’s gangrene and underwent emergency surgery at Mary Washington Hospital. He was ultimately transferred to Walter Reed Hospital for eight additional procedures. His medical bills were approximately $127,000.00. The jury deliberated for six hours before returning the verdict.
This case demonstrates the real tragedy of Virginia's "tort reform." The next time you hear some politician arguing that "medical malpractice limits are good" please direct them to this web page.
A 28 year old married mother of two with a history of methicillin resistant staph aureus (MRSA) infections presented to the hospital with complaint of signs and symptoms indicating that indicated she was suffering from an epidural abscess from the MRSA lesion. Through myriad errors by a urologist, nurses, an infectitious disease specialist and an admitting intern her abscess went undiagnosed.
The woman was left permanently paralyzed from the waste down with a permanent loss of bowel and bladder control.
This Lynchburg, Virginia medical malpractice case settled for the "cap" of $1,700,000.
A Rockingham County Circuit Court has returned a $300,000 verdict in favor of a woman who previously suffered Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. The woman contended that an injection caused a collapsed lung (no claim of negligence there) but that the treatment she received after the collapsed lung exacerbated her condition. The defense contended that she did not now have Complex Regional Pain Syndrome in her lung.
A Virginia jury has a awarded a man $922,000 after shoulder joint replacement surgery resulted in an arm that could not be used at all. The patient was 52 years old at the time, making $46,000. The plaintiff's subsequent treating surgeon, Robert J. Neviaser, M.D., testified that the original surgeon place the prosthesis too high, violating the standard of care. The malpositioning of the device caused serious damage to the rotator cuff, severely limiting the ability to reach or have any meaningful range of motion. The defendant called two medical experts to testify that his care was appropriate.
The patient receieved a toxic brain injury after injection of contrast media and antibiotic into his spinal canal during a discogram procedure of teh cervical spine. The defendant denied he did anything wrong even though x-rays showed the needle in the spinal canal.
The 29 year old female patient first developed knee, then back pain of unknown cause. The treating primary care physician ignored the recomendation of a neurosurgeon to order an MRI. By the time the Ewings Sarcoma was discovered the cancer had metastisized. The plaintiff's experts were of the opinion that had the MRI been performed when suggested, the plaintiff's liklihood of cure would have increased 65%.
A Newport News jury awarded over a million dollars to the estate of a women who fell after she had been admitted to the hospital for dehydration. She later died and her estate contended that she was at risk for a fall because of her confusion, problem with gait and stability, poor vision, and a history of falls.
A Richmond Circuit Court jury determined that the defendant anesthesiologist breached the standard of care in failing to appropriately monitor a patient during deep sedation anesthesia. The defendant contended the injury was cause dby cardiac stunning secondary to the ICD testing causing pulseless electrical activity.
A Norfolk Circuit Court jury determined that the an obstetician mismanaged a delivery involving a 7 pound 6 ounce baby boy.
An Essex County jury returned this verdict against primary care physican Alan Margolis after she developed tardive dyskinesia, a permanent neurological disorder, after long-term use of Triavil.
The patient alleged that the drug should not have been prescribed because she had not psychotic symptoms. She also alleged that she was never told of the well documented dangers of using the drug.
The jury's verdict was not appealed.
Large verdicts in plastic surgery cases are a real rarity in Virginia. Many jurors mistakenly believe that anyone who uses surgery to improve their looks "gets what they asked for." A Henrico County jury awarded this verdict after agreeing that the surgeon injured facial nerves and caused disfigurement of the patient's right eye.
The medical bills were approximately $74,000.
As is often the case in Virginia, where the medical malpractice cap gives terrific protection to the insurance companies who sell medical malpractice insurance, there was no offer of settlement made. The insurance companies know that they are totally protected from a runaway verdict in Virginia, so they take their chances, forcing nearly every medical malpractice case in Virginia to go to trial.
According to this opinion from the Supreme Court of Virginia, a husband and wife sought marital counseling from Williamsburg Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Shomer Zwelling. After the wife told the husband that she wanted to terminate the marriage, the husband learned that the social worker had been maligning him during the treatment of his wife, disclosing to her intimate details that he had disclosed to the social worker in confidence and that during and after the social worker’s treatment, the social worker had been engaged in an inappropriate and extra professional relationship with his wife.
The Supreme Court pointed out that Virginia has a law that bars a claim based upon “alienation of affection.” The Court held that there can be no recovery for a claim that one has induced the breach of the marital relationship.--Ben to check sentence structure here. The Court held that this law does apply to protect healthcare providers who use their professional position to obtain confidential information which they then later use to destroy a marriage.
(Note from Virginia medical malpractice attorney Ben Glass: This ruling reaffirms Virginia’s position in the dark ages. How can a mental health care provider be immune from suit for the conduct that is described in this case?)
The plaintiff claimed that shortly after he started the drug Buspar he developed numbness and tingling in his hands and feet. He reported these symptoms to his physician but was ignored. He later was diagnosed with transverse myelitis which caused irreversible damage to his nervous system. He claimed that he should have been evaluated for a neurological ailment much earlier.
A Fredericksburg jury awarded $1.8 million. This was reduced to Virginia's cap on medical malpractice damages of $1.55 million.
The plaintiff claimed that a psychiatrist prescribed an experimental drug that had not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treatment of bipolar II disorder. Five weeks after taking the drug, this mother of three developed a hypersensitivity reaction and lost all of the skin on her body. This caused her death.
The court reduced the jury's verdict to $1.65 million, which was the applicable "cap" on medical malpractice verdicts for this incident.
The plaintiff alleged that surgeon did not leave enough skin in breast reduction surgery--as a result, both breasts were left split open, according to published reports about the case.
The plaintiff alleged that the dye used in the procedure was mixed with an antibiotic. During the procedure, the discogram needle punctured the disc (X-rays showed this) and went all the way into the subarachnoid space. Rather than aborting the procedure, the defendant, Michael Hasz and the VA Spine Institute, said he pulled back the needle. There were no films of that however.
When the dye/antibiotic mix reached the patient's brain, she had a seizure, went into a coma and nearly died. Damages included medical bills, loss of short term memory and lost wages.
Trial was held in Portsmouth, Virginia. According to published reports the hospital and the surgeon both blamed each other for the obvious error. The error occurred during aortic bypass sugery.
Virginia Medical Malpractice Attorney Ben Glass