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Epidural error costs $4.25 million

One of the questions that can come up in a personal injury lawsuit is, “What is the ability to live a normal life worth?” A Connecticut jury has recently given one answer, in the form of an award of more than $4 million to a woman who suffered an epidural error during labor.

The basis of the medical malpractice lawsuit against an anesthesiologist was that as a result of working for 24 hours before administering the epidural in question he was too fatigued to perform his duties in a medically competent manner. During the process of placing a needle into the plaintiff’s lower back, he struck her spinal cord in such a way that she sustained injuries that left her in chronic pain, permanent damage to one of her legs, and possibly even eventual permanent paralysis.

The damages award, which anticipates long-term medical care costs that may go on for years, is the culmination of events that began about six years ago, when the epidural error occurred.

Although the plaintiff’s attorneys claimed that the anesthesiologist was overworked, the health care facility that employed him was apparently not named as a defendant in a hospital negligence lawsuit. The allegation of medical malpractice stemmed from the failure of the anesthesiologist to recognize that he was too tired to perform the epidural, should have called in a substitute anesthesiologist to do it instead, and failed to do so.

Medical malpractice cases, especially ones that involve serious and long-term injuries, can be complex to prove in court. Issues of actual and proximate causation, the applicable medical standard of care, and damages calculations can require considerable factual investigation, expert testimony and detailed legal analysis in order to prevail at trial. Anyone who has experienced an injury as a result of a medical error should carefully consider the choice of a law firm to represent his or her interests, to make sure that the attorneys have experience in handling medical malpractice litigation.

Source: FOX CT, "Bridgeport woman awarded $4.25 million after epidural causes lasting damage", Samantha Schoenfeld, May 5, 2015

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