These are North Carolina medical malpractice statistics of interest. Unless otherwise indicated, the statistics are from 1998-2009.
- There are an average of 566 medical malpractice lawsuits filed in North Carolina each year, or one-quarter of one percent of the lawsuits filed in North Carolina. For those who think malpractice lawsuits are increasing in number: there were 496 malpractice lawsuits in 2009, the last year studied.
- Said another way, from 1998 through 2009, the number of all civil case filings in North Carolina
averaged 228,037 per year. The medical malpractice filings accounted for 0.25%
of all civil cases.
- Okay, but North Carolina juries award a ton of money when the plaintiff wins a medical malpractice lawsuit. No, not really. In the 54 malpractice cases in which the plaintiff won at trial and received money damages, the median jury award was $320,000. Underscoring the point, 10 of these malpractice verdicts were below $10,000. Not exactly runaway juries.
- Doctors are fleeing North Carolina? Not quite. Between 1998 and 2008 (the last year for which statistics were available), the total population in North Carolina grew by 18.3%, while the physician population increased by 29.1%. Maybe not every doctor has gone to Texas yet.
- Four percent of medical malpractice lawsuits go to verdict. Plaintiffs win 22.33% of the time. If you consider cases with multiple defendants, 86% of doctors prevail at trial.
North Carolina Medical Malpractice Verdicts and Settlements
- 2019, North Carolina: $816,988 Verdict. A 61-year-old man alleged that the delays in diagnosing his spinal hematoma caused permanent nerve injuries. The man initially underwent cervical fusion surgery at Watauga Medical Center. Three days later, he presented to Ashe Memorial Hospital’s emergency room after he fell at home. After being hospitalized for seven hours, the ER physician had him transferred to Watauga Medical. The man was then diagnosed with a spinal hematoma that caused spinal cord compression. He underwent the surgical removal of the hematoma on the same day. Despite the procedure, the man claimed permanent spinal cord and nerve injuries that left him unable to walk. He then underwent physical and rehabilitative surgery for several months. Within a year, he regained his ability to walk. However, his spinal cord damage left him unable to return to his manufacturing job. The man also was diagnosed with walking limitations, balance issues, weakness to his extremities, and reduced motor skills. He sued Ashe Memorial, Watauga Medical, and their respective doctors for improperly diagnosing and treating his condition when he came into their care. The man alleged that Ashe Memorial had no MRI equipment, which would have allowed for a timely diagnosis if his spinal cord compression. He also alleged that his doctors failed to appreciate that spinal hematoma was a complication of cervical fusion surgery. The man claimed that these treatment delays caused his spinal cord damage to become permanent. An Ashe County jury found all the defendants liable and awarded the man an $816,988 verdict.
- 2019, North Carolina: $15,000,000 Settlement. A mother alleged that the nurse’s failure to replace her newborn daughter’s breathing tube resulted in permanent brain injuries. The woman’s daughter was born prematurely with a narrow windpipe. She underwent a tracheostomy for treatment. One day, a nurse removed the baby’s tube because she thought it was dirty. Instead of replacing the tube, she cleaned and re-inserted it. Shortly after, the baby went into cardiac and respiratory arrest. This deprived her brain of adequate blood flow. She suffered cognitive impairments, dystonia, cerebral palsy, muscle spasms, abnormal muscle tone, quadriparesis, cortical blindness, and swallowing difficulties. The now five-year-old girl could not walk, talk, or see. She was dependent on a ventilator for breathing and a tube for eating. Her mother, a nurse, went from working full-time to part-time to care for her daughter. The case settled for $15,000,000.
- 2018, North Carolina: $511,200 Verdict. A man suffered an infected Stage IV bedsore around his sacral region while hospitalized. He underwent surgery for its treatment. The man sued the hospital, alleging that its staff failed to turn and reposition him every two hours and failed to properly treat the bedsore. The man also alleged that the hospital staff miscategorized him as a “self-turn” patient. A Gaston County jury awarded the man a $511,200 Verdict.
- 2018, North Carolina: $2,000,000 Settlement. A mother alleged that delays in the C-section delivery caused her son’s permanent brain injuries. The hospital staff initially admitted her after tests revealed that her baby experienced decreased blood flow. Upon admission, the delivery failed to progress. The baby also showed signs of fetal distress. After 45 minutes, the hospital staff advised the obstetrician to order a C-section. The obstetrician refused, then left the hospital. Two hours later, the baby’s heart rate dropped and did not recover. The staff ordered an emergency C-section, and the obstetrician returned to the hospital. However, the baby had already suffered a severe brain injury upon being born. The mother sued the obstetrician, alleging that their failure to timely order a C-section caused her son’s severe brain injury. This case settled for $2,000,000.
- 2017, North Carolina: $100,422 Verdict. A 68-year-old woman suffered an adrenal crisis that caused severe declines in her health after the hospital staff failed to include hydrocortisone in her post-surgical care. The woman initially underwent the surgical removal of her adrenal gland and left kidney at Forsyth Medical Center. Following the procedure, her health deteriorated, and she was transferred to Brian Center. Before being transferred, the staff provided instructions on administering hydrocortisone as hormone replacement therapy. However, a Brian Center nurse failed to include it in a list of medications used to treat her. The staff eventually found her unresponsive. She was then transferred back to Forsyth Medical, where she was diagnosed with an adrenal crisis. The Forsyth’s staff intravenously administered glucocorticoids to stabilize her condition. The woman sued Brian Center, alleging that the staff’s failure to administer hydrocortisone caused her to experience an adrenal crisis that deteriorated her condition. This case settled for $100,422.
- 2016, North Carolina: $6,180,000 Verdict. A man died from coronary artery disease caused by atherosclerosis after being discharged from a hospital’s emergency department five hours earlier. He had presented to the emergency room, complaining of chest pain that radiated to both his arms. His estate sued the hospital, alleging that its staff failed to timely diagnose and treat his condition. The Cabarrus County jury awarded a $6,180,000 verdict.