In late May 2012, a civil trial jury in Bronx, New York (NY), awarded $120 million to a woman and her family. Jurors determined that three hospitals and two neurologists caused the woman's brain damage and permanent disability by mismanaging her prescription drug therapy after she suffered a seizure in 2004.
The woman received multiple medications while being shuffled between Jacobi Medical Center, Kings County Hospital Center, and Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center over the course of a single month. Interactions between the drugs appear to have caused the woman to develop Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a rare, life-threatening side effect of several seizure medications.
The group representing the plaintiff hospitals and doctors will most likely appeal to have the medical malpractice award reduced or dismissed. As a personal injury attorney who has helped many victims of medication mismanagement, doctors' mistakes and medical negligence, I will go on record as hoping the appeal fails.
Patients literally put their health and lives in the hands of the medical facilities and providers they visit when they become sick or have emergencies. When mistakes or negligence leave patients in worse health, the organizations and individuals who injured them must be held accountable.
While $120 million seems an incredible amount of money, the funds reflect a calculation of the past and future 24/7 medical and personal care the woman requires, all the income she lost and will never be able to earn again, and the pain and suffering she has experienced since becoming a medical malpractice victim. Rather than protesting that the jury award is too high, the plaintiffs should be asking if it's enough money to provide for the woman's care and compensate her for damages and losses.