Three years later, a jury returned a $20 million verdict in an anesthesia medical malpractice lawsuit. It was a preventable wrongful death.
The death of Paulett Pettaway Hall in 2006 was one that could have been prevented had the doctor and anesthesiologist paid attention to the patient’s medical records. “Unfortunately, the defendants in this case did not examine her abdomen for the cause of her severe stomach pains and did not read her medical records. The records clearly stated that Hall was a high risk patient, and was at peril for breathing fluids into her lungs,” indicated Daren Monroe, Litigation Funding Corporation, Southfield, Michigan.
Hall was having exploratory surgery done to find out what was causing her severe stomach pains. In order to have the surgery, she was given anesthesia. Once she was under, she began breathing bile into her lungs; an incident that later caused her death. “The wrongful death/anesthesia medical malpractice suit contended that the defendants didn’t refer to Hall’s medical records prior to giving her anesthetic,” explained Monroe.
The jury sitting this case found in favor of the plaintiff, Hall’s husband and family, who contended her death was preventable, but for the negligence of the doctors. The damages awarded were $20 million.
The shocking thing about this case and about the trial itself, is that anesthesia deaths clocked in at over 2,200 deaths between 1999 and 2005. These figures are courtesy of the medical journal, Anesthesiology, which also reveals that anesthetic is the number one underlying cause in roughly 34 fatalities every year in the US. In addition to that, anesthesia is also the contributing culprit in close to 281 deaths. “The figures actually show that just over 46% of the deaths discussed here were due to an overdose of anesthesia, while complications, such as Hall’s, represented about 11% of the recorded deaths,” Monroe added.
Either way, this case is looked at, from the perspective of a wrongful death or the perspective of medical malpractice, as a case of unnecessary death. Hall’s family suffered the tremendous loss of a wife, mother, friend, aunt and sister. Their grief was compounded by having to also find ways to cope without her income, a significant a part of the family dynamic.
During the three years it took for this trial to come to a verdict, the Hall family had to carry on with their lives as best they could, struggling from paycheck to paycheck. Although, for all practical purposes, they were unable to barely make ends meet, this didn’t have to be the case. Lawsuit financing could likely have been secured with one quick phone call.
“Contacting a lawsuit financial company with a good reputation and qualifying for funding would have made the Hall family’s wait a lot easier. Lawsuit funding removes the pressure to settle early and inexpensively and allows the attorney the time he/she needs to get the litigant the fairest possible result,” said Daren Monroe, Litigation Funding Corporation, Southfield, Michigan.