A Miami Beach woman left bedridden and in excruciating pain following spinal surgery in 2003 at Mount Sinai Medical Center was awarded $38 million by a Miami-Dade Circuit Court jury.
The six-person jury deliberated nine hours over two days before finding that neurosurgeon Mario Nanes, Mount Sinai and the hospital’s pharmacy management firm caused Amanda Slavin’s debilitating injuries.
Mount Sinai settled before the case went to trial, so it is not on the hook to pay any part of the award. The hospital’s pharmacy management firm at the time, McKesson Medication Management, vowed to appeal.
Nanes originally operated on Slavin to repair a herniated disc. In a subsequent surgery to fix a spinal fluid leak, Nanes injected Slavin’s spine with a dye — the chemical methylene blue — in an attempt to locate the leak. The chemical’s packaging, which had been discarded by McKesson, warned it should not be used for the surgery that Slavin underwent.
Following the surgery, Slavin developed a neurological disability known as arachnoiditis. She said she suffers from burning, stabbing and pressure pains throughout her body.
Slavin reported Nanes to the state Department of Health, which in 2007 fined him $10,000 for ”failure to practice medicine with that level of care, skill and treatment which is recognized by a reasonably prudent similar physician as being acceptable under similar conditions.” The $10,000 is the maximum the state can fine a doctor for a single violation.
Nanes has been sued nine times by patients since the mid-1980s, according to Slavin’s lawsuit.
Among them was a 2001 case brought by Josie Miller, an elderly housekeeper rendered quadriplegic after Nanes failed to monitor her after the surgery. A jury awarded Miller about $1.4 million in 2002.
Nanes then filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a maneuver that wiped out virtually all of Miller’s judgment.
Levine said she wrote the state demanding that it revoke Nanes’ medical license because he did not pay the judgment. But she said she was told it could not move to revoke his license because there was no longer any judgment, which was discharged by the bankruptcy. Nanes represented himself during the trial. He had no professional liability insurance at the time of Slavin’s surgery.
In assigning fault, the jury found Nanes was 68 percent responsible. Mount Sinai was assigned 18 percent of the fault, and McKesson was assigned 14 percent. Mount Sinai, however, settled the case out of court for an undisclosed amount just before the start of the trial. Taking away Mount Sinai’s share of fault would reduce the verdict to about $31 million.
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