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NYC releases number paid out for medical errors

New York City paid out $134 million this year for medical errors at its public hospitals. For the fiscal year ending on June 30, there were 270 medical malpractice cases completed. The amount paid is slightly less than last year's $135 million.

Court documents highlight some of the tragic cases of doctor negligence that contributed to this figure.

At one Queens hospital, doctors delayed a woman's birthing process. Also, forgoing a C-section, the labor process lasted too long and by the time the baby was born his heart rate was above 200 beats per minute and he was not breathing. A CT scan indicated bleeding in his brain and a skull fracture. The boy is now permanently disabled. It is difficult for him to walk or even speak. Half of the $3.5 million award to the boy's mother was placed in a state fund specifically to cover medical expenses.

A second hospital in Queens failed to diagnose a life-threatening brain hemorrhage. The woman went to the emergency room with a severe headache. Doctor's released her and nine days later she collapsed with a brain hemorrhage. She remains in a vegetative state. Her attorney helped to secure a $4.9 million settlement from the hospital.

In the Bronx, a hospital did not carry the proper equipment to resuscitate a baby boy born to a mother with preeclampsia. Today, the boy uses a walker to get around and is barely able to speak. The family settled for $4.5 million in damages.

It is reassuring to know that the victims and their families in these cases were compensated for their injuries. But no amount of money or lawsuit can make the victims whole again. The medical errors sustained in these cases produced tragic results that the former patients will live with for the rest of their lives.

This payment figure only includes public hospitals, but whether public or private, hospitals and doctors must follow a certain standard of care. Any medical professional or care provider who deviates from this standard of care may be liable to the patient, or family of the patient, injured as a result of negligence.

Source: NY Daily News, "Medical malpractice lawsuits have cost city $134 million this year and range from babies crushed to crucial misdiagnoses," Reuven Blau, Aug. 27, 2012

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