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Parties announce settlement in medical malpractice claim

The damages that can be recovered in a wrongful death case where the plaintiff is the estate of a young woman just out of medical school can be astronomical. The plaintiff would present an actuary and other experts to establish the various elements of a damages calculation of lost wages and earning capacity over a 40-year period. The figures would be mathematically calculated over the expected life and work span of the young person, with wage and cost of living increases. The same process of calculating wrongful death damages would be used in Louisiana in a medical malpractice case.

That is the potential "fright" factor faced by a hospital and doctors who were sued by the estate of a 26-year-old female doctor who was set to go to work in a few months with the same hospital that turned out to be instrumental in her death. Based on the potential for a runaway verdict and facing a very tough set of facts, the hospital folded its defense three days into a jury trial. The parties reported settling for an undisclosed sum.

The young doctor had appeared at the emergency room of the Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center complaining of headaches and bruising. Blood tests showed irregularities that could have indicated a blood clot but the hospital staff and doctors did not perform appropriate brain scans for several days. By the time it was done, the patient had died because of brain hemorrhaging.

The testimony over the three days of the trial apparently did not go well for Geisinger. The Geisinger witnesses reportedly were ineffective in defending the haphazard protocol that met the young doctor that Memorial Day weekend in 2013. A verdict could have potentially ranged in the tens of millions of dollars, which makes it quite reasonable for the hospital to have called off the high-stakes gamble it was pursuing. The same principles of negligence law and damages calculations are applicable in Louisiana in a medical malpractice case with similar facts.

Source: pennlive.com, "Geisinger settles 'high stakes' malpractice trial in Pa. doctor's death", John Luciew, Mar. 8, 2016

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