toddler receives 10m emergency room negligence led to amputation

Emergency rooms in Pittsburgh are filled with patients whose medical conditions vary in severity. Some patients come in with bullet wounds; others complain about stomach aches. When patients check in at emergency rooms, it is with the expectation that their problems will be triaged appropriately. Unfortunately, malpractice in emergency rooms can have serious or fatal consequences.

Last February, we wrote a story about a toddler who did not receive the prompt treatment she needed when her parents took her to the emergency room. The toddler and her parents waited in the emergency room for five hours before the little girl was finally seen by a doctor. Even at that point, the toddler was only seen because her father forced his way into an operating room and demanded that the doctors look at his daughter.

At that point, the daughter was so sick that she needed to be flown to another hospital for treatment. The negligent treatment from the emergency room staff nearly claimed the toddler’s life.

In the end, the girl’s feet, left hand and part of her right hand were amputated, and she spent more than three months in the hospital.

The family filed a medical malpractice claim. Now, a year after the parents took their daughter to the emergency room, their lawsuit was settled. The family will receive $10 million from their medical malpractice lawsuit.

While that certainly seems like a large sum of money, it will be necessary to pay for the ongoing medical treatment the girl will need. According to an article from The Associated Press, the toddler spent three months at Stanford before being admitted to another hospital. Even now, she is still “undergoing therapy and will need expensive medications, custom prosthetics, special garments and wheelchairs for the rest of her life.”

That type of medical treatment does not come inexpensively. Moreover, because of the extensive amputations, the girl may be restricted in the type of work she can do when she is older. It is likely that the money will not only be used to pay for her medical treatment now, but it may also need to be used as a primary source of income when she is older.

Considering that this little girl’s life has been forever altered due to a failure to provide adequate and timely care, is $10 million even enough? How much is a child’s future worth?

Source: The Associated Press, “Girl to get $10M for amputations after ER delay,” Oct. 28, 2011

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