Medical facility to pay $4 million in medical malpractice suit

A jury recently awarded an out-of-state woman $4 million in a medical malpractice suit against a hospital and its parent medical facility. The suit pertained to her father dying after falling in the long-term medical facility. The award, which was assessed for punitive damages, was the result of the suit that had been filed by the decedent's daughter and executor of his estate. Similarly, when Tennessee residents are injured while in the care of a medical facility, they -- or their surviving family members in the event of a fatality -- are typically entitled to file a medical malpractice suit.

The woman's 77-year-old father had been a patient at the long-term medical facility. He fell in Sept. 2007 and was later discovered lying on the floor of his room. According to the man's medical records and the state's investigation, he had been at a higher risk of falling and was supposed to be restrained.

By leaving the patient unrestrained, the facility did not uphold its standard of care, according to the suit. Around 12 hours after the fall, the patient died. According to the claims, had the standard of care been upheld, the patient would not have died. The hospital countered that not only were the patient's medical records incorrect, but the patient never actually fell -- it also argued that the word "fall" has a different definition when used in the medical sense.

Regardless of the hospital's defense, the jury saw the gravity of the error that occurred. When a Tennessee medical facility breaches its duty of care and that error results in either the injury or death of the patient, victims or their families are entitled to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the party or parties believed responsible. Successfully presented, this type of claim may result in the entry of a monetary judgment, which may help the victim or the victim's family with costs associated with the incident; in certain circumstances of egregious error, punitive damages against the responsible party may be awarded so that incidents of this nature are less likely to occur in the future.

Source:, "Jury awards $4 million in malpractice lawsuit against Dothan medical facility", Matt Elofson, March 28, 2016

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