The Indianapolis medical malpractice lawyers at Garau Germano Hanley & Pennington, P.C. obtained a $2 million jury verdict in a case arising from a medication error at an Evansville hospital.
The case involved the administration of radioactive iodine to a nine-year-old girl at Deaconess Hospital in Evansville, Indiana. The patient was undergoing a thyroid uptake and scan, in which a small dose of radioactive iodine is administered in order to assess whether the thyroid gland is functioning properly. As part of the procedure, Deaconess was supposed to administer a dosage of 4 microcuries of radioactive iodine known as I-131, Instead of 4 microcuries, Deaconess gave the patient 424 microcuries of the radioactive iodine. As a result of the overdose, the patient was required to undergo annual ultrasounds and laboratory studies to monitor for thyroid cancer. As of the date of trial, she had not developed thyroid cancer.
Deaconess’s position at trial was that there was little if any damage. From a legal standpoint, Deaconess argued that an increased risk of developing thyroid cancer was not legally cognizable damage. The trial court rejected this position before trial and instructed the jury that damages were recoverable for an increased risk of harm.
Factually, Deaconess claimed that the girl’s chance of developing thyroid cancer as a result of the overdose had only gone from the 1.44% chance applicable to the general population of white females to 2.67%. Deaconess also argued that even in the unlikely event that Nicole developed thyroid cancer, such cancer was likely treatable and curable.
In response, the patient’s lawyers presented the testimony of two nationally renowned experts on thyroid cancer and the effects of radiation exposure. Both experts testified that the patient had a greater than 50% chance of developing thyroid cancer during her lifetime as a result of the overdose. The jury apparently chose to believe the testimony presented by the patient, returning a verdict of $2 million approximately 35 minutes after being given the case. (Although the verdict was for $2 million, the verdict was reduced by the court to $1.25 million as required under Indiana’s Medical Malpractice Act. That law limits the recovery against a healthcare provider to a maximum of $1.25 million.)
The case, Ford v. Deaconess Hospital, Inc., Cause No. 82C01-0503-CT-261, was tried in Vanderburgh Circuit Court from February 25-27, 2013. Deborah Pennington and Jerry Garau represented the patient at trial. They and the other experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Garau Germano Hanley & Pennington, P.C. are available to assist patients who have been injured as a result of medication errors or any other form of medical malpractice.