Jury awards $7.4 million for brain damage caused by negligence

Medical mistakes can have dire consequences. This was apparent in a medical malpractice case where an Erie County jury ruled against two neurologists and their Sandusky medical practice in August and awarded $7.4 million for a woman's permanent brain damage caused by the alleged misdiagnosis.

The victim was 76-years-old when she was admitted to a medical center on October 28, 2013, suffering from confusion and leg weakness. She went to a hospital emergency room 25 days earlier suffering with a chronic cough. An x-ray revealed a suspected mass in her lungs which could have come from lung cancer.

After admission to the hospital, a MRI identified lesions that could have been an abscess caused by a brain infection or cancer from the lungs. The neurologists ignored the clear signs of a brain abscess and focused on possible lung cancer, according to the plaintiffs' attorneys. Their expert witnesses testified that they should have immediately ordered antibiotics because of the suspected brain infection.

The neurosurgeons argued that their treatment was reasonable because the patient smoked more than two packs of cigarettes a day. They also claimed that other doctors did not order antibiotics, her white blood count was normal, and blood samples did not show that there was an infection.

The woman ultimately suffered permanent brain damage after the doctors did not recognize the brain infection. She is now 81-years-old, lives in a nursing home, and cannot care for herself. The victim cannot use her left arm or legs, cannot control some bodily functions, and has diminished mental capacity, according to the plaintiffs' attorneys.

The jury awarded $7.4 million in damages to the woman's guardian, her husband, and other plaintiffs. Blame was apportioned 40 percent to one of the physicians and 60 percent to the other doctor. This verdict was among the largest ever awarded in Erie County.

Victims of medical negligence and mistakes may be entitled to compensation for damages they suffer. An attorney can assist them with obtaining evidence and expert assistance to pursue their legal claims.

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