Let’s take a look at hospital malpractice verdicts and settlements in Massachusetts in recent years. I’m writing this on March 31, 2021 so we do not have a ton in recent years.
Why? Hospitals in Massachusetts — or anywhere — are usually not racing to the courthouse steps to try cases. They have too much in PR and goodwill to risk a loss so they settle the good cases they could lose.
$2,750,000 Verdict (Massachusetts 2019): A man underwent a coccygectomy at Massachusetts General Hospital. Following the procedure, he suffered a wound infection. The man subsequently developed osteomyelitis, recurring anal fistulas, pudendal neuralgia, sexual dysfunction, and rectal and urological problems. He alleged that the surgeon’s negligence caused these permanent injuries. The man claimed he failed to recognize infection signs, order additional testing, and provide follow-up monitoring. He also made a vicarious liability claim against MGH. The defense denied liability. A Boston jury awarded $2,750,000.
$250,000 Verdict (Massachusetts 2016): A man presented to UMass Memorial Health Care’s emergency room. He was suffering from shortness of breath. The man’s medical history included congestive heart failure and atrial flutter. He was admitted with atrial flutter. The man spent 11 hours in the telemetry floor. He lost consciousness and developed hypercapnia. The man required intubation. He was subsequently transferred to the Coronary Care Unit. The man died shortly after being transferred. His causes of death were pneumonia, sepsis, and a pulmonary hemorrhage. The man’s family alleged that UMass Memorial staff’s negligence caused his death. They claimed they failed to timely transfer him to the CCU. UMass Memorial denied liability. It also argued causation: that the man’s advanced age and co-morbidities caused his death. The Worcester jury ruled in the family’s favor. Somehow, the jury awarded only $250,000.
$592,000 Verdict (Massachusetts 2014): A 45-year-old woman underwent a chest X-ray at a radiology clinic. The radiologist interpreted the films as normal. Five months later, the woman was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. She underwent different chemotherapy treatments, several other treatments, and multiple hospitalizations. The woman died thirteen months later. Her family alleged that the radiologist’s negligence caused her death. They claimed he misinterpreted the X-rays and failed to provide follow-up care. The family also claimed vicarious liability against the radiology clinic. An Essex County jury found that the radiologist’s negligence reduced the deceased’s survival chances. They awarded $592,000.
$707,000 Verdict (Massachusetts 2013): A woman underwent a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy and a laparoscopic-assisted hysterectomy. An OB/GYN performed them. Following the procedures, the woman suffered obstructions and chronic urinary tract infections. She underwent several bladder and ureter repair procedures. During one of them, non-party surgeons discovered ureter and bladder tears. The woman alleged that the OB/GYN’s negligence caused her injuries. She claimed she misrepresented her competence, improperly diagnosed her, failed to receive informed consent, and negligently performed the hysterectomy. The woman also made a vicarious liability claim against the OB/GYN’s employer, a woman’s clinic. The defense denied the woman’s claims. A Plymouth County jury awarded the woman $707,000.
$1,230,000 Verdict (Massachusetts 2013): A 56-year-old woman died from metastasized cancer. Her family alleged that her primary care physician and nurse practitioners’ negligence delayed her diagnosis. They claimed they failed to order several tests. This included digital rectal exams, fecal occult blood testing, and a colonoscopy. The family also made a vicarious liability claim against the clinic that employed the physician and nurse practitioners. The defense denied liability. They argued that an earlier cancer diagnosis would not have changed the outcome. A Bristol County jury ruled in the woman’s favor. They awarded her $1,230,000.
$2,945,000 Verdict (Massachusetts 2013): A man died from a heart attack. His family alleged two physicians’ negligence caused his death. They claimed one of them discontinued aspirin for prophylactic use and failed to make a cardiologist referral, while the other failed to perform a cardiac catheterization. The man’s family asserted vicarious liability claims against the group practices that employed the physicians. All four defendants denied liability. The Middlesex County jury ruled in favor of one of the physicians but not the other. They awarded $2,945,000.
$1,894,160 Verdict (Massachusetts 2012): A 56-year-old man suffered balance impairments, light-headedness, and dizziness. He presented to Saint Vincent Hospital. The man underwent a brain CT scan. The radiologist revealed old lesions. A physician’s assistant made a vertigo diagnosis. The man was discharged with medications. He was told that the old lesions were unrelated to his symptoms. The man’s symptoms failed to resolve. He presented to his primary care physician. The man underwent a brain MRI, which revealed multiple strokes. He received a neurologist referral. The neurologist diagnosed him with multiple strokes. He was eventually discharged to a rehabilitative facility. The man failed to undergo an atypical stroke work-up. He was transferred to Saint Vincent Hospital. The man was diagnosed with intravascular lymphoma. His chemotherapy treatments successfully stopped it. However, the man sustained severe and permanent brain damage. He alleged that Saint Vincent’s staff negligence caused these permanent injuries. He claimed the radiologist negligently failed to correctly interpret his brain CT, accurately diagnose his condition, timely make a neurologist referral, and timely receive a brain biopsy. He made a vicarious liability claim against SVH. The Worcester jury awarded $1,894,160.