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Veteran paralyzed by VA hospital wins $8.3M in lawsuit

Posted on behalf of Michael D'Amico of D'Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC on Dec 02, 2013 in Surgical Errors

In 2013, a hospital run by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which maintains facilities in Connecticut and other states, was made the target of a lawsuit brought by an Army veteran. In 2009, the man, who was 43 years old at the time, underwent a cardiac stent insertion at St. Louis' John Cochran VA Medical Center after experiencing chest pain.

The surgical site, which was located on his left thigh, subsequently presented swelling and bleeding, and an infection was later discovered there. The man required additional surgery to repair an artery in his leg, and the limb was eventually amputated because of the spread of the infection.

In October 2013, his attorneys argued that the medical negligence of the hospital staff resulted in the man's second artery repair surgery being performed with infected tissue. The man eventually became paralyzed and partially vegetative and sustained serious brain damage due to blood loss.

On Nov. 18, a U.S. district judge awarded the man and his wife a total of $8.3 million following a two-day trial. Although the attorney for the VA hospital would not comment, the facility previously experienced notable problems and malpractice lawsuits relating to issues such as improper sterilization, incorrect administration of potentially fatal medications and the misdiagnosis and mistreatment of conditions such as lymphoma.

Patients who fall prey to medical malpractice may suffer for years after being injured. Conditions like infections and brain damage can prevent victims from holding down jobs, making it difficult to pay outstanding medical bills.

Hospitals rarely cover the costs of extra treatment without first being sued for malpractice, but managing such cases can be difficult or impossible for the injured. Attorneys may be able to help these individuals and their families by pursuing lawsuits to hold the doctor or facility accountable and providing formal legal representation.

Source: St. Louis Today, "St. Louis man wins $8.3 million malpractice award against John Cochran VA hospital", Blythe Bernhard, November 19, 2013