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NYC woman awarded $120 million for brain-damage

When seeking treatment from a hospital, you always expect that your needs will be met in accordance with professional standards of practice. Unfortunately, deviations from these standards of care can result in serious injury, including incapacitation and permanent injury. A New York City woman was recently awarded $120 million for brain-damage she suffered as a result of mismanaged hospital care and medical malpractice.

The 45-year-old woman initially sought treatment for a seizure from several New York City hospitals in 2004. According to the complaint her treatment was botched after medical personnel mismanaged medications, failed to respond to crises, and did not provide appropriate response which could have prevented brain-damage. The woman suffered allergic reactions from her anti-seizure medication, including swelling in the face, eyes, and throat. Later she was diagnosed with a rare and severe skin disorder, known as Stevens-Johnson syndrome.

The jury found that two city hospitals were accountable for 90% of the injury and allocated 5% responsibility to a third hospital and 4% to neurologists. The award was the largest ever returned in the state and is being appealed by the city. Defendants offered their sympathies to the family but firmly stated that the jury verdict was inconsistent with "the facts and the law."

Medical malpractice and personal injury awards are based on lost future earnings, pain and suffering, medical costs as well as future care needs. While assessing the personal and economic loss of any situation can be complicated, the awards are usually based on some analysis of projected costs. The defendants, as well as some analysts, believe that the jury verdict is excessive though others argue it is consistent with the pain and suffering caused to the family and the victim for their personal and economic losses.

Source: The New York Times, "Brain-Damaged Woman Wins Suit Against City Hospitals," Matt Flegenheimer, May 25, 2012.

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