Recent Hilbrich Blog Entries

Hospital's Mistake Results in 2 Million Dollar Verdict for Patient

Visiting a doctor is something we all must do from time to time. It is inevitable that at some point we will get sick or injured. It is at that time when we put our health and trust in our medical professionals. Unfortunately, however, our doctors and hospitals can make mistakes. Luckily, not all mistakes immediately affect our health. Sometimes, those mistakes only increase the chances of future problems. Yet, even in those instances where a mistake causes no immediate injury, a negligence case can be won. For example, a trial court in Indiana recently decided a case involving the accidental overdosing of a nine year old girl. Back in 2003, Charlotte Ford took her daughter, Nicole, to the doctor because she was having problems swallowing. Her doctor suspected Nicole may have a thyroid problem and so ordered Nicole have a thyroid uptake study at the local hospital. The study involved the administration of a radioactive tracer called Iodine-131. Nicole was supposed to take the Iodine in pill form, but due to her difficulty swallowing, she was unable to do so. Instead, the hospital’s radiology technician ordered the pharmacy to send up a liquid version of the tracer. However, the technician mistakenly ordered a quantity of the Iodine that was 100 times greater than the originally prescribed dose. As a result, Nicole drank 100 times more of radioactive Iodine than was medically necessary. Although Nicole suffered no immediate injuries, doctors determined that Nicole was at a significantly higher risk of developing thyroid cancer during her lifetime. Consequently, Nicole would require annual thyroid ultrasounds and other frequent tests for the rest of her life. In addition, she was guaranteed to develop thyroid nodules, which she later did, and there was a thirty to fifty percent chance those nodules would become cancerous at some point in her future. Nicole’s mother filed a lawsuit against the hospital on a theory of negligence and increased risk of harm. The hospital defended on the theory that it could not be held responsible for something Nicole had not yet suffered from or developed. In the hospital’s opinion, since Nicole did not actually have thyroid cancer, it could not be responsible for an alleged increased risk of her possibly getting cancer. The jury in Nicole’s case disagreed and ultimately awarded Nicole $2,000,000. The jury’s award in Nicole’s case illustrates just how much we, as a society, trust our doctors and technicians to properly diagnose and treat us and how upset we are when they mishandle our care. While not every instance of medical negligence results in such a large jury award, Nicole’s case shows that even the increased risk of future medical problems is sometimes enough to win in a medical negligence case. If you or a loved one have been mistreated or misdiagnosed by your doctor, you may be entitled to damages. Please call 877-877-LAW2 (5292) or 219-924-2427 for a free consultation with one of our firm’s top medical malpractice attorneys.

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