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Medical Malpractice Resulting in Brain Damage - $1,000,000 Settlement

Medical Malpractice: Brain Damage
Tried before judge or jury (or mediation): Settled.
Special Damages: $200,000.00 (medical expenses)
Amount (specify award or settlement): $1,000,000.00
Date (of verdict or settlement): May 29, 2001
Highest Offer: $1,000,000.00
Attorney for plaintiff(s) and city of office: Kenneth I. Kolpan

Other useful information:

On October 15 1999, the Plaintiff, age 26 and mother of two children traveled to the Defendant Ob-Gyn's office for a second semester termination of her pregnancy. Prior to the Plaintiff's arrival at the Defendant's medical office, a second Defendant, a nurse anesthetist, prepared IV bags of Saline and Brevitol, a medication used as an anesthesia during the procedure. The surgical procedure was completed successfully. At the conclusion of the procedure, while the Plaintiff was recuperating, the Defendant Ob-Gyn gave the Plaintiff IV medication thought to be Pitocin, only in an effort to complete the surgical procedure. The Defendants left the Plaintiff unattended and unmonitored for thirty to forty five minutes during which time she slipped into a coma.  Defendants found the Plaintiff unconscious and unresponsive. EMT's were called. On the way to the area hospital, the Plaintiff suffered a cardiac arrest. Plaintiff remained in coma several days.

After the patient had been rushed away from the office, the Defendant nurse anesthetist was looking for the unused IV bags containing Brevitol which she had prepared earlier in the day. In the waste basket, the Defendant nurse anesthetist found an empty IV bag that had been labeled, "Brevitol". The Plaintiff had been given an excessive overdose of the drug, Brevitol instead of Pitocin.  As a result of receiving more than four times the normal dosage of Brevitol, the Plaintiff sustained significant brain damage. She spent nearly three months in acute and rehabilitation care. She has returned home but has been unable to work.  Plaintiff is remains permanently brain damaged with significant short term memory deficits which impact her daily living, leave her at risk to be left alone and render totally disabled.

Suit was brought against the Defendant Ob-Gyn and Defendant nurse anesthetist for negligently administering Brevitol in excessive amounts, failing to recognize the medication being administered, failing to monitor the patient after the procedure.  The Defendant physician was sued for failing to properly supervise the nurse anesthetist and failing to maintain medication bags in a safe and proper manner.

A brief video depicting the Plaintiff's current medical condition was submitted to the Defendant Ob-Gyn's insurer. The nurse anesthetist did not have an additional professional liability policy but was insured under the physician’s policy which had single limit of $1,000, 000 in coverage meaning the most that the Plaintiff could recover under the policy limits was $1,000,000.

Negotiations ensued while the litigation was temporary halted by mutual agreement.  Settlement was $1,000,000.00, the full policy limits of the Defendant Ob-Gyn. Plaintiff’s health insurer had a significant subrogation claim on the settlement meaning the health insurer, under its contract, was entitled to reimbursement for its medical payments if the Plaintiff obtained a settlement.  In order to reach an agreement, the Plaintiff's health care provider accepted a reduction of their lien, notwithstanding that it was an ERISA policy.