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Doctor errors cited in $12 million malpractice award

Iowa emergency room doctors are trusted to respond to difficult medical issues in a responsible and timely manner. Whether a patient goes to the ER with a life-threatening crisis or a more minor situation, doctor errors can exacerbate the problem. For many, medical errors can have life-long implications for both themselves and their families, although medical malpractice lawsuits can help alleviate this burden. An out-of-state jury recently awarded a woman $12 million after she was severely injured at her local emergency room.

The 42-year-old woman was seen by her primary care doctor and told that her international normalized radio -- a measure by which blood levels are calculated -- was at 13, when the normal range is closer to between two and three. Her doctor instructed her to proceed to the emergency room to receive urgent treatment. She had been seen in the hospital for elevated INR several times between 2006 and 2013, and during each visit was usually treated with fresh frozen plasma or Vitamin K, although sometimes both treatments were required.

When the woman arrived at the emergency room later that same day, a medical resident took a different treatment route. He administered Profilnine, a medication used to help blood clot. According to the hospital's guidelines, the medication is only approved for use when a patient is suffering from a life-threatening bleed or is in need of emergency surgery, neither of which applied to the patient. The medication initially lowered her INR rates to a normal range, but after two hours she suffered cardiac arrest. Although attending physicians managed to stabilize her, she never regained consciousness and has since been living in what her family describes as a vegetative state.

The three-week trial followed an attempt to settle, in which the hospital allegedly offered only $1 million. Although the $12 million verdict will no longer permit for a Medicaid-financed caregiver, the resulting compensation will allow her to receive better and more regular care. Such results are invaluable for Iowa victims and their families, many of whom take on the burdensome role of caregiver following serious doctor errors.

Source: tucson.com, "Tucson woman wins $12 million jury verdict against Banner-UMC in malpractice case", Stephanie Innes, Nov. 10, 2017

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