The L.A. County Board of Supervisors is implementing a corrective action plan to improve communication between medical practitioners and emergency hospital services in Los Angeles as part of a settlement with a man left paralyzed after treatment.
Justin Malone was injured in a motorcycle crash in 2010. His aorta was ruptured, and was repaired with a large stent graft by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. A little over a year later, Malone collapsed while playing basketball, and was taken to L.A. County/USC Medical Center for emergency treatment, where he was also admitted. While in excruciating pain, Malone’s condition worsened over two days and he lost feeling in his limbs. Eventually, his doctors realized that a blood clot in the stent graft had cut off circulation to his entire lower body. The clot was removed, but the loss of blood flow caused Malone to be permanently paralyzed. Malone will need assistance with everyday tasks for the rest of his life.
The county blamed a breakdown in communication for the failure to correct the blood clot. The Emergency Medicine, Radiology, Neurosurgery and Internal Medicine departments were provided education about sharing critical patient information, and a program was developed to improve communication between the emergency department and the admitting medicine department. Had the information about Malone’s stent graft been shared earlier, the blood clot may have been treated earlier and Malone might not be paralyzed.
As a result of his paralyzation, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, which oversees the county hospital, agreed to pay Malone $4.5 million in damages, and also agreed to waive his medical bills. The money will help Malone afford the intensive care that he will need for the rest of his life.
Hospitals are complex organizations, and often one department is unaware of procedures or treatments performed in another department, even though they may share the same patient. A hospital’s complexity and hierarchical structure, however, does not excuse failing to share critical information which could save a patient’s life.
When communication breaks down as it did in the case of Mr. Malone, the hospital is responsible for their negligence. Hopefully, the new procedures implemented in Los Angeles County will prevent other patients from suffering as a result of a similar lack of communication.
Negligence or malpractice at the hands of skilled medical practitioners is never excusable. Patients injured by negligence have the right to seek compensation for injuries suffered as a result of this negligence, and should work quickly to protect their legal rights.
If you or your loved one has been injured as a result of medical negligence, you need someone who understands both the law and the medicine like Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq. As both an attorney and a doctor, our office has the expertise you need to prove your medical malpractice case.
For a free consultation with a medical malpractice attorney, contact Bradley I. Kramer today by calling (310) 289-2600 or use our online case evaluation form to have your claim reviewed for free.