Articles Posted in Rhode Island

Rhode Island health officials have ordered the Rhode Island Hospital, the state’s largest hospital, to pay $150,000 and install video monitoring equipment in every operating room after the fifth – three of which were brain surgeries – wrong-site surgery incident since 2007. These are just the ones that we know about.

The Rhode Island Hospital has been fined in the past for wrong-site surgeries. But fines, and I’m sure lawsuits, do not seem to make much of a change in behavior.

A six-person jury in Providence, Rhode Island awarded a former truck driver $4 million, agreeing with Plaintiff’s lawsuit claiming medical malpractice by his orthopedic surgeon caused him injury. The award was $1.5 million for physical pain, $1.5 million for mental suffering, $500,000 for disfigurement, and $500,000 for lost wages, according to Plaintiff’s Rhode Island medical malpractice lawyer.

Plaintiff worked as a truck driver for The Providence Journal for nearly twenty years when he began experiencing intense pain in his arm in 1999. His doctor operated to improve his movement, and in the process removed a benign tumor. But Plaintiff shortly began having problems with his hand, changing color, temperature, and sweating. Another doctor diagnosed him as having Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome, a chronic neurological disorder that causes severe pain. During the operation to resolve that condition, the subsequent doctor found that another nerve had been sliced. According to his lawyer, Plaintiff’s hand has been in a claw ever since and he has nonstop pain to this day.

You can read more about the Rhode Island medical malpractice verdict here.

In Willis v. Omar, the Rhode Island Supreme Court ruled that there is no “social host” liability for homeowners who served alcohol to a couple who were later injured in a drunk-driving accident, the Rhode Island Supreme Court has ruled. The Rhode Island high court ruled that the court refuses to “adopt the principle that a social host owes a duty to a third party for injuries suffered by an intoxicated guest who was imbibing at his or her home….”

Rhode Island personal injury lawyers may disagree, but I believe this is the correct ruling based on Rhode Island law. I think it is morally reprehensible to allow – or at least try to stop – a drunk driver when you served or make the alcohol available. But I do think it may be difficult to put the monitoring burden on a bar or the server of alcohol at a party even in this case where the driver had a BAC of .196. But it should depend on the facts. If you certainly know that someone is drunk and just say “Hey, have a great night” it seems like there is something awful about that. Should that be a tort if a third party is injured? I don’t know.

The injured Plaintiff received a $300,000 settlement in the personal injury case against the drunk driver himself but it hardly compensated her for her catastrophic injuries which included an amputated leg.

cardiothoracic surgeon malpracticeA Providence, Rhode Island jury awarded a Warwick man $2 million in his medical malpractice lawsuit against a cardiothoracic surgeon based in Providence. The plaintiff allegedly suffered brain damage from oxygen deprivation during open-heart surgery at Rhode Island Hospital.

One extremely fair aspect of Rhode Island personal injury law is that victims can get prejudgment interest of 12%. The negligence, in this case, occurred 10 years ago so the plaintiff’s award could exceed $3.6 million. Accordingly, defense lawyers in Rhode Island do not have the usual incentives to stall the resolution of cases.

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