Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

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Mariam Toraish, as the administrator of her deceased five-year-old son Adam’s estate, instituted a medical malpractice action against James J. Lee, M.D. and his practice. Lee had performed a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy surgery upon Adam, who died that same day from cardiac arrhythmia. Toraish’s complaint alleged that Adam was at a high risk for postoperative respiratory compromise and that Dr. Lee violated the applicable standard of care by failing to order that he be monitored overnight following surgery. During trial, the trial court allowed the expert testimony of Simeon Boyd, M.D., a board-certified pediatric geneticist, who opined that Adam highly likely died of “cardiac arrest due to Brugada syndrome.” The jury returned a verdict in favor of Dr. Lee and his practice. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Dr. Boyd’s testimony should not have been admitted because it was based upon an assumption that had no basis in fact. Remanded for a new trial. View "Toraish v. Lee" on Justia Law

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Pike underwent complex surgery at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center to reconstruct the back of his mouth and was taken, for recovery, to the Surgical Trauma Intensive Care Unit. Unit patients are often in very critical condition and each nurse is responsible for two patients at most. Following a surgery such as Pike’s, it is important to keep the patient’s head stable to enable blood to flow. Pike's doctors did not write any orders specifically governing the position of his head or neck. A surgeon at the hospital testified that he would rely on the skill and expertise of the nurse to position the patient’s head. Five days after the surgery, Pike was found in a position that would cause “venous compromise.” The staff was instructed to avoid this practice. That afternoon, Pike’s physician found Pike again in that position, his face and neck massively swollen. Pike had to undergo further surgery, which was not successful. Pike's malpractice complaint was dismissed on the basis of sovereign immunity. Pike argued that Hagaman, a registered nurse, was not entitled to sovereign immunity. The Supreme Court of Virginia affirmed, noting that Hagaman’s discretion was cabined by physicians’ orders, that she could not refuse to accept a particular patient, that the hospital “had a high degree of control over Hagaman," who was supervised by senior staff, and that she was subject to hospital policies. The hospital pays her wages and determines her schedule. View "Pike v. Hagaman" on Justia Law

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The parents of Kenia Lopez-Rosario, an adult with several physical and cognitive disabilities, petitioned the circuit court appoint them as Lopez-Rosario’s co-guardians. The circuit court granted guardianship to the parents. Subsequently, Lopez-Rosario had surgery to remove her gallbladder, and the surgeon, Dr. Christine Habib, allegedly made an error that injured Lopez-Rosario. Lopez-Rosario filed a negligence suit against Dr. Habib and her employer. Defendants filed a plea in bar/motion to dismiss, arguing that Lopez-Rosario could not file suit in her own name because her parents had been appointed as her guardians. The circuit court granted the plea in bar/motion to dismiss, concluding that Lopez-Rosario did not have standing to sue in her own name. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, pursuant to Va. Code 64.2-2025, Lopez-Rosario’s parents had the authority and obligation to prosecute lawsuits on Lopez-Rosario’s behalf, and therefore, Lopez-Rosario lacked standing to file suit in her own name. View "Lopez-Rosario v. Habib" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a medical malpractice action against Defendant, an oral maxillofacial surgeon, after Defendant’s thwarted attempted to extract three of Plaintiff’s wisdom teeth resulted in permanent numbness in Plaintiff’s lower left jaw area. Plaintiff contended that Defendant was negligent in failing to properly diagnose the condition of his wisdom teeth and in recommending and performing the teeth extractions. The jury rendered a verdict for Plaintiff. Defendant appealed, arguing that the circuit court erred in excluding evidence of the risk of surgery discussions between him and Plaintiff. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in excluding from evidence Defendant’s risk of surgery discussions with Plaintiff. View "Fiorucci v. Chinn" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a complaint in 2010 alleging wrongful death and medical malpractice against healthcare providers (Defendants). During pretrial discovery, Plaintiff filed two separate motions to compel, which the trial court denied. Prior to trial, Plaintiff took a voluntary nonsuit. In 2010, Plaintiff filed a new complaint against the same defendants alleging the same cause of action. The trial court entered an agreed order incorporating the discovery conducted and taken in the 2010 action into the 2012 action. After the jury returned a defense verdict, Plaintiff filed a motion for a new trial and to reconsider certain evidentiary rulings, challenging the trial court’s denial of her motions to compel in the nonsuited action. The trial court denied the motion for a new trial. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because the trial court’s agreed order did not expressly incorporate the motions, objections, or rulings made by the court in the 2010 nonsuit action into the 2012 action, these rulings could not be challenged in this appeal. View "Temple v. Mary Washington Hosp." on Justia Law

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When Dr. David Roberts performed amniocentesis on Plaintiff’s mother, who was pregnant with Plaintiff, bleeding occurred. Complications arose from the unsuccessful amniocentesis, and Plaintiff was born with damaged kidneys and cerebral palsy. Plaintiff filed a motion for judgment against Dr. Roberts and other defendants for medical malpractice. Plaintiff asserted that her claim was not covered by Virginia’s Medical Malpractice Act because she was not a “patient” as defined by the Act where she was not a “natural person” at the time of the treatment, and therefore, her claim was not subject to the Act’s statutory cap on damages. The jury returned a $7 million verdict in Plaintiff’s favor. The trial court reduced the verdict, holding that the cap applied. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Virginia’s statutory cap on damages applied to Plaintiff’s cause of action because Plaintiff became a “patient” when she was born alive, and therefore, her claim fell within the Act. View "Simpson v. Roberts" on Justia Law

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On February 5, 2009, Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendant doctor, alleging that he committed medical malpractice during his treatment of her. On February 5, 2010, Plaintiff filed a motion asking the circuit court to find that she had shown good cause for lack of service of process on Defendant within the statutory twelve month period. The court granted the extension. On March 30, 2010, Bowman obtained service of process of the complaint on Defendant. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the complaint. The circuit court held that the February 5, 2010 order was void because Plaintiff's failure to obtain service on Defendant within twelve months resulted from a lack of due diligence on her part. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court (1) erred in ruling that the February 5, 2010 order was void, but it did not err in setting aside the order and requiring Plaintiff to demonstrate that she exercised due diligence in attempting to obtain service of process on Defendant; and (2) did not err in finding that Bowman had not shown that she exercised due diligence in seeking to obtain service of process upon Defendant within twelve months of filing her complaint. View "Bowman v. Concepcion" on Justia Law

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Kasey Landrum sued Defendants, Chippenham and Johnson-Willis Hospitals and Dr. John Deitrick, for medical malpractice. Because Landrum did not identify her expert witnesses in accordance with the circuit court's scheduling order, Defendants moved to exclude the expert witnesses and for summary judgment. The circuit court denied Defendants' motions and gave Landrum's out-of-state counsel extra time to supplement the designation so as to comport with Va. R. Civ. P. 4:1(b)(4)(A)(i). Landrum's out-of-state counsel then filed a supplemental designation without local counsel's signature in violation of Va. R. Civ. P. 1A:4(2). The circuit court then granted Defendants' motions to exclude the expert witnesses and for summary judgment after finding that Landrum could not meet her burden of proof on her medical-malpractice claims without an expert witness to establish the standard of care. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in excluding Landrum's expert's witnesses because of her failure to obey its pretrial orders. View "Landrum v. Chippenham & Johnston-Willis Hosps." on Justia Law