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Medical Malpractice

Medical mistakes can lead to serious, lifelong injuries. The legal team at Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger represents Californians injured in all types of medical negligence cases.

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San Francisco Medical Malpractice Results

Examples Of Our Success In Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Cases

The San Francisco, California, medical malpractice injury and wrongful death lawyers at Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger have represented the families of medical malpractice victims against hospitals, doctors, nurses, HMOs and others.

Examples of our success in the medical malpractice wrongful death area include the following cases:

Failure To Treat Stroke – $38 Million Jury Verdict

Walkup Melodia’s medical malpractice team obtained a record $32 million jury verdict in Superior Court on behalf of an 18-year-old man whose doctors failed to get him prompt care when was admitted to the hospital with signs and symptoms of stroke. The doctors and nurses who saw him admitted him for observation instead of getting him immediate specialized stroke care. As a result, he became paralyzed and lost his ability to communicate. Walkup malpractice lawyers showed through expert testimony that his lifetime of disability was avoidable had proper care been given.

Excessive Pitocin Administration/HIE Injury — $23.2 Million Jury Verdict

In a birth injury jury trial brought for a child with spastic quadriplegia, the Walkup medical malpractice trial team received a $23.2 million jury verdict. The 2½-year-old plaintiff suffered cerebral palsy, quadriplegia and cognitive impairment when her mother’s doctor failed to recognize and act on the warning signs of fetal distress during her birth. As a result, a timely cesarean section was not performed.

The child was deprived of oxygen for 28 minutes before an emergency C–section could be completed. Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy resulted, and the child now has multiple health problems, including a permanent tracheotomy, g–tube, spastic cerebral palsy, cortical impairment and seizures. The jury award included $1.7 million for past health care expenses, $10 million for future health care expenses, $10 million for past and future pain, disability and emotional distress, and $1.5 million for loss of earning capacity.

Failure To Diagnose Spinal Abscess — $9.49 Million Jury Verdict

Our paralysis trial team obtained a jury verdict in the amount of $9,480,820 on behalf of a 29-year-old Sonoma County laborer who suffered permanent paraplegia from the navel down as a result of an untreated spinal epidural abscess. The defendant had been treating the plaintiff for skin infections for approximately two months when our client began to develop unremitting pain in his back. The defendant charted a suspicion of epidural abscess, but never ordered the appropriate diagnostic tests to confirm his suspicion.

After a fourth office visit, he sent the patient home with a prescription for pain medication and instructions to proceed to the emergency room if the pain worsened or he developed neurological symptoms. Several hours later, the pain worsened, and the young man’s mother drove him to the emergency room. The ER doctor failed to treat the enhancing abscess, and the following morning, paraplegia was complete.

Pediatric Neurosurgery Error — $6.35 Million Jury Verdict

Walkup medical malpractice specialists negotiated a settlement having a present cash value of $6.35 million after a neurosurgeon misdiagnosed a spinal cord abnormality and performed high-risk neurosurgery on a 6-year-old girl, causing her permanent quadriplegia.

Experienced neurologists had examined the child and ruled out the possibility of a congenital Arnold Chiari malformation or tethered cord. Despite the fact that these treating doctors had ruled out a rare and complicated neurological condition, the defendant neurosurgeon mis-diagnosed the child and performed a high-risk surgery. As a result of intraoperative complications, the young girl was rendered quadriplegic.

Hypoxic Injury At Birth — $6 Million Settlement

Our medical negligence attorneys negotiated a settlement of $6 million on behalf of a 2-year-old boy who sustained hypoxic brain injury during labor and delivery. Paul proved that the labor and delivery nurse and the obstetrician failed to communicate when the mother’s uterine and fetal monitor tracings demonstrated signs of placental abruption. The mother was at risk for placental abruption because of preeclampsia and an intravenous infusion of Pitocin for induction of labor. After the mother had received several hours of Pitocin, the obstetrician’s examination showed the cervix was dilating.

The obstetrician concluded that labor was progressing adequately and left the hospital to go back to his office. Shortly after he left the bedside, signs of placental abruption appeared — contractions were too strong and too frequent and the uterus never relaxed to a normal baseline pressure. By the time the baby was finally delivered, he was limp and pale, not breathing, and without a heart rate, having suffered hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy.

Death Of Husband And Father Drug Overdose – $5.65 Million Settlement

Walkup’s hospital liability lawyers brought this action on behalf of the widow and surviving three children of a San Francisco insurance broker who died after routine back surgery. Following surgery, the decedent was given a PCA pump to deliver analgesic pain medications to the surgical site.

A few hours after surgery, the decedent’s vital signs changed for the worse, suggesting possible drug overdose and cardiac problems. The hospital doctors on duty failed to appreciate the significance of the vital sign change and did not assign him to the intensive care unit or to a one-on-one nursing floor. His condition deteriorated and his heart rate became elevated. He ultimately sustained cardiac arrest, anoxic brain damage and death.

Delay In Diagnosing Infection — $5.5 Million Settlement

Our specialists in medical liability obtained a cash and annuity settlement with a present cash value of $5.5 million on behalf of a 56-year-old physician who suffered paralysis after his HMO health care providers failed to timely recognize and treat an evolving spinal infection. The plaintiff called the defendants’ office with complaints of back pain and fever. A nurse suggested he not go to the ER, but come and see his physician instead.

That doctor believed the plaintiff might have an epidural abscess in his cervical spine and sent him to the emergency department for an MRI. Although an epidural abscess is considered a neurosurgical emergency, the MRI tech refused to complete the scan because the plaintiff was unable to lie still as a result of neck pain. As a result, his providers failed to complete the MRI and get him into surgery to decompress the spine and clean out the infection. The client suffered irreversible paralysis from the chest down as a result of the delay.

Mismanagement Of Anesthesia — $5 Million Settlement

Our team of medical malpractice wrongful death attorneys negotiated a multimillion-dollar settlement on behalf of the husband and daughter of a 33-year-old woman who died as a result of the mismanagement of anesthesia. The deceased was suffering from gastric pain and sought medical care from a gastroenterology group. Despite the woman’s history of complications with sedation during ERCP procedures, the GI doctors did not consult an anesthesiologist about safe sedation procedures.

During the surgery, the sedation nurse failed to monitor the woman’s airway. As a result, she suffered cardiac arrest. The surgery team failed to administer timely resuscitation and did not attempt to defibrillate the patient until the Code Blue team arrived. This failure to respond resulted in a loss of oxygen to the brain, irreversible brain damage and death.

Obstetrical Malpractice — $4, 875, 000 Recovery

The Walkup malpractice trial team settled a birth injury action on behalf of a mother and infant in the amount of $4,875,000. Following prolonged labor, the child was neurologically depressed at birth and required resuscitation. Her medical providers had induced labor with Pitocin for more than 24 hours without any progress. Although nurses charted worrisome changes on the fetal heart monitor, they continued to increase the doses of Pitocin to unusually high levels. The attending obstetrician ordered the mother to begin pushing in the face of ongoing fetal heart rate decelerations.

The mother’s contractions were occurring too frequently, giving the fetus little resting time between contractions. After pushing for more than three hours and depleting the baby’s reserve, a cesarean section was ordered. Delivery was finally accomplished almost an hour later. Head CT scans showed brain injuries consistent with hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. The baby girl was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and right-sided hemiplegia.

Failure To Treat Infection — $4 Million Settlement

We negotiated a $4 million settlement on behalf of a young man who was left in a permanent vegetative state after hospital physicians and nurses failed to treat worsening sepsis and pneumonia and overdosed him with intravenous tranquilizers, causing ischemic brain damage. The plaintiff, a 27-year-old restaurant worker, presented to the emergency room with vomiting, shortness of breath and pleuritic chest pain. Blood tests and a chest CT scan proved consistent with sepsis and pneumonia.

The ER physician started intravenous antibiotics and transferred the patient to the intensive care unit, but no ICU physician assumed responsibility for his care. Instead, his internist ordered a protocol that authorized the nurses to give escalating doses of intravenous tranquilizers. Overnight, the patient developed signs of worsening sepsis and impending respiratory failure. Instead of summoning a physician to the bedside, the nurses continued to give intravenous tranquilizers. Finally, after 20 hours without evaluation by a physician, the patient became obtunded and his breathing slowed.

Misdiagnosis Of Heart Condition — $4 Million Settlement

Walkup lawyers negotiated a cash and annuity settlement having a present cash value of $4 million on behalf of a 13-year-old boy who was left in a persistent vegetative state because of his doctors’ persistent failure to diagnose a genetic heart condition known as Prolonged QT Syndrome. At age 7, the child presented to the defendants’ emergency room with symptoms of a seizure.

At age 9, he returned again to the ER after losing consciousness and falling; the underlying cause of the loss of consciousness was never investigated. At age 11, the boy began having involuntary body spasms, convulsions and drooling. His primary physician diagnosed the problems as seizures and referred him to a neurologist. Unfortunately, his condition was cardiac in origin as his heart was not supplying sufficient blood to his brain. His physicians did not recognize that his symptoms required an EKG and cardiac evaluation. The young boy ultimately suffered cardiac arrest and hypoxic brain injury.

Failure To Diagnose Leg Infection — $3,156,000 Jury Verdict

The Walkup medical liability trial team obtained a jury verdict in the amount of $3,156,000 after a six-week trial on behalf of a 17-year-old boy who suffered ARDS, osteomyelitis, hip fusion and chronic pain because of a failure to diagnose a soft tissue staph infection. The minor’s orthopedic surgeon failed on two separate occasions to conduct necessary diagnostic tests to identify a staph infection that had seeded in his thigh following a minor injury at football practice. Over time, the infection worsened, the child became septic, went into septic shock, developed ARDS and multisystem organ failure, and required 11 surgeries to debride the infected musculature of the left leg. Ultimately, the infection progressed to the bone, producing osteomyelitis and necrosis of the hip joint, requiring two fusion surgeries. Future medical care costs sought at trial exceeded $500,000.

Failure To Diagnose Head Injury — $3 Million Jury Verdict

Our medical malpractice wrongful death trial lawyers prevailed in a case brought on behalf of the parents of a 29-year-old man who died of an undiagnosed head injury. The young man presented to the defendant emergency room physician with a head laceration after being struck with a surfboard. Ignoring the possibility of a head injury, the defendant doctor neglected to order a CT scan or palpate the wound and merely sutured the laceration and discharged the patient with a prescription for Vicodin. Shortly after being discharged, the patient fell unconscious in his living room and was emergently taken to San Francisco General Hospital.

There, CT scanning demonstrated a depressed skull fracture, which lacerated the middle meningeal artery. Extensive intracranial bleeding resulted in brain death. At trial, Walkup wrongful death lawyers demonstrated that palpating the wound would have resulted in discovery of the skull fracture and the institution of timely life-saving care. The jury agreed, awarding the plaintiffs a total of $3 million in damages for the loss of their son. The judgment was later reduced pursuant to the provisions of California’s 32-year-old MICRA law, which limits general damages to $250,000.

Wrongful Birth — $2.4 Million Settlement

Two Walkup partners obtained this settlement with a present value of $2.4 million in a wrongful birth claim on behalf of twin infants born with Down syndrome. The children’s parents alleged that the defendant medical center failed to offer or perform specialized invasive prenatal testing, which would have diagnosed the condition. The twins were conceived by way of in vitro fertilization and underwent preimplantation genetic diagnostic testing. The defense contended that prenatal testing (amniocentesis) was offered, but refused by the parents.

Vision Loss From Delayed Diagnosis — $2 Million Settlement

We obtained a $2 million settlement on behalf of a teenage girl who experienced delayed treatment of a surgically treatable condition called pseudo tumor cerebri. The previously healthy girl presented several times to an HMO-operated clinic with severe headaches and visual complaints, which began after she had received a tetracycline type antibiotic. Despite this classic presentation of pseudo tumor cerebri, no ophthalmology evaluation was performed for two weeks.

Once the diagnosis was finally made, the attending physicians failed to recognize the need for emergency surgical intervention, allowing her vision to deteriorate for three more weeks. By then, increased pressure on her optic nerves had caused permanent vision loss.

Error In Treating Blood Clots — $1.75 Million Settlement

Our lawyers concluded a wrongful death claim against a health maintenance organization on behalf of the husband and four children of a 42-year-old municipal bus driver who died after the flawed insertion of a medical device intended to prevent pulmonary embolism. The patient developed a deep vein thrombosis that caused a pulmonary embolism.

She was hospitalized with shortness of breath and a radiologist inserted a vascular filter. During the radiologist’s insertion of the filter, she failed to properly seat two of the four strut hooks to hold the filter in place. The filter came loose, unwound and migrated into the heart, where the two loose strut hooks became lodged in the atrial chamber of the heart. Although chest and abdominal CT scans revealed the filter had migrated to the heart, which requires prompt removal, the patient’s physicians did not remove the filter.

Speak To Our California Medical Malpractice Lawyers Today

Whether your problem involved a delay in diagnosis, a failed procedure or an operative complication, you can speak live with an experienced medical malpractice attorney in San Francisco. For an immediate consultation, call us at (415) 981-7210 or contact the Walkup firm online.

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