Two doctors from Massachusetts General Hospital have agreed to pay $4.5 million to the family of a woman who died after the doctors failed to take reasonable measures to prevent her death. Geraldine Moran, age 62, was cleaning around her house when she fell off of a ladder and broke several ribs. She was initially taken to Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital – Plymouth (at the time known as Jordan Hospital), where a medical scan of her pelvis and chest revealed a cracked rib with a sharp tip close to her aorta. Ms. Moran was thereafter transferred to Mass. General where she was evaluated by Dr. Alasdair Conn and Dr. George Velmahos. Neither doctor ordered a chest image or assembled a trauma team to address the cracked rib; instead, they planned to monitor Ms. Moran overnight and perform a chest X-ray in the morning. Medical staff noted that Ms. Moran had “a bad cough.”
The next morning, while still in her hospital bed, Ms. Moran coughed. The physical act of coughing caused the cracked rib to puncture Ms. Moran’s aorta. Ms. Moran went into cardiac arrest at approximately 9:30 a.m.; by 9:50 a.m., she was pronounced dead.
Cases Resolved by a Settlement Typically Do Not Include an Admission of Wrongdoing
The vast majority of medical malpractice cases are resolved by a settlement, or an agreement, between the parties. In fact, even where a case goes to trial, the parties can still typically reach a settlement so long as the judge or jury has not reached a verdict. Settlements have several advantages for those injured by medical malpractice. First, settlements can be reached at any time after a suit is filed, and typically are reached well before a case is ready to go to trial. This means the injured patient or his or her family are able to quickly recover damages necessary to help with any costs or harm caused by the malpractice. Second, whereas a monetary award rendered by a judge or jury may be appealed and reversed or lowered by a higher court, settlements are typically final and are not appealed. This lends a sense of finality to the case, which some injured parties may find valuable. Third, statistics show that medical malpractice cases that proceed to trial are more likely to be resolved in the favor of the healthcare professional.
Settlements – including the settlement reached in Ms. Moran’s case – typically also involve a denial of any wrongdoing by the healthcare professional or hospital. That is, although the injured party is paid, neither the medical professional nor the hospital admit that what they did was wrong or negligent. For some injured parties – particularly those who lost a loved one or suffered catastrophic, irreversible injuries – this aspect of settlements may make the prospect of settling a medical malpractice case distasteful.
Consult with an Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney
Those injured by medical professionals should seek advice from an experienced medical malpractice attorney. An attorney can not only review the facts of the particular case with them, but can also explain the court process and help them weigh the benefits and drawbacks of trying to reach a settlement. If you or a loved one has been injured by the negligence of a healthcare professional, contact us today at (508) 755-7535 for a free consultation.