Plaintiff attorneys are seeking a new trial in a medical malpractice case in which a jury found a hospital negligent in a patient’s death but awarded $0 survival damages because the jury said “no amount of damages will adequately punish” the hospital.
A 24 year old man died after his brain abscess was not timely treated by the Pittsburgh hospital staff. The jury found that the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center at Shadyside’s care of the patient fell below the standard of medical care and was a factual cause of harm to the plaintiff. The jury awarded $2.5 million in Wrongful Death Act damages, but awarded zero dollars in Survival Act damages.
The jury stated that it is our belief that UPMC Shadyside’s policies, culture, and lack of competent supervision resulted in the death of the plaintiff.
According to Plaintiffs’ experts, the plaintiff’s lost earning capacity was between $4 million and $15 million since he was working as an accountant.
The plaintiff began vomiting and reporting a headache, he was admitted to the hospital and scans of his brain revealed a large mass. The nursing and medical staff failed to diagnose the seriousness of the plaintiff’s condition and despite brain surgery, the plaintiff died.
Medical Analysis: Large brain masses are a medical emergency, and the brain is a closed box. When the mass begins to swell, it has no where else to go and brain damage begins to occur. If left untreated death can occur fast.
The nurses and doctors should have kept a closer watch on this patient and treated him in a timely manner with brain surgery. Here the brain damage had already occurred and the brain surgery was too little too late.
Legal Analysis: This was a case where the doctor and nurses blamed each other for the wrongful death. Jury was understandably angry and did not award any survival damages.