Philadelphia Jury Awards $1.5M Verdict in Medical Malpractice Case

Neil Murray, a Philadelphia injury attorney and partner at Sheridan & Murray, announced today that after an eight day trial, a jury awarded $1,533,000 to his clientSonia O’Connor, in a medical malpractice lawsuit brought against two Philadelphia physicians. The jury of seven women and five men deliberated for four hours before reaching its verdict. Presiding over the trial was Judge Victor DiNubile in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.

The case against the two Philadelphia doctors involved the medical care O’Connor received from one physician during her admission to a Philadelphia hospital and subsequent medical care received from a second physician during her admission to a Philadelphia nursing home. The claims of negligence against the hospital’s doctor were: failure to recognize the significant change in the O’Connor’s condition consistent with spinal cord compromise; failure to properly examine O’Connor; failure to have her evaluated by an specialist; failure to order indicated diagnostic studies; and failure to implement an appropriate discharge treatment plan. The claims of negligence against the nursing home’s doctor were: failure to recognize the significant change in O’Connor’s condition consistent with a spinal cord injury; failure to recognize significant neurologic symptoms; failure to properly evaluate and monitor O’Connor; failure to have O’Connor evaluated by a neurologist/neurosurgeon; and failure to transfer her for immediate surgical care.

On October 29, 2005, Sonia O’Connor, then 68 years old, was suffering with severe back pain and was admitted to a Philadelphia hospital under the care of one of the doctors named in the lawsuit. During this admission, on November 10, 2005, she was diagnosed with a destructive infection and abscess in her thoracic spine, thoracic osteomyelitis. O’Connor’s thoracic spine osteomyelitis required close monitoring, repeat diagnostic studies and an evaluation by a neurologist or neurosurgeon. This was not done by hospital’s doctor. During the week between her diagnosis of spinal osteomyelitis and her discharge from the hospital, the patient’s ability to walk deteriorated significantly. On the date of discharge, the hospital’s doctor sent the patient to a nursing home with nothing more than a prescription for antibiotics and physical therapy. Once at the Philadelphia nursing home, O’Connor came under the care of another doctor who was named in the lawsuit. While at the nursing home, the patient’s condition continued to worsen. She experienced progressive leg weakness, difficulty moving her legs, and eventually an inability to walk. Despite this serious decline in her condition, O’Connor was never evaluated by a spine specialist or neurosurgeon, or admitted to a facility with surgical availability to treat her spinal cord injury. On December 1, 2005, O’Connor suffered total paralysis of her legs.

On December 2, 2005, O’Connor was transferred from the nursing home to a hospital and diagnosed with spinal cord compression caused by a collapse of her T-3 vertebrae She required an emergency surgery to remove the bone fragment from her spinal cord and subsequent surgery 11 days later to stabilize her spine. The collapse of her thoracic spine onto her spinal cord was due to the destruction of her spine caused by the osteomyelitis. Due to her spinal cord injury, O’Connor now has partial paralysis in her legs, very limited use of her legs, and is essentially wheelchair-bound.

Murray utilized the testimony of medical experts at trial on his client’s behalf and successfully cross-examined multiple defense medical experts to assist the jury in concluding that Sonia O’Connor’s spinal injury was preventable and the two doctors deviated from acceptable standards of care, increased the risk of harm to O’Connor, and contributed to her eventual paralysis.

After the $1.5 million medical malpractice verdict was returned, Murray said, “If Mrs. O’Connor received the proper medical attention during her initial visit to the hospital and subsequent care while in the nursing home, she would have full use of her legs today. Instead, she has partial paralysis, limited use of her legs, and will require ongoing medical care for her condition.”

In addition to the $1.5 million verdict against the two Philadelphia doctors, Sheridan & Murray also obtained settlements on behalf their client from a Philadelphia hospital and Philadelphia nursing home for undisclosed amounts.

About Sheridan & Murray – A Philadelphia-based law firm that represents victims of personal injury and their catastrophic consequences including medical malpractice, construction accidents, wrongful death, insurance coverage disputes, car accidents and product liability. The firm has successfully received million- and multimillion-dollar verdicts and settlements on behalf of their clients. To learn more about the Philadelphia injury lawyers that comprise Sheridan & Murray, visitwww.SheridanAndMurray.com.

Josh Sandberg

Josh Sandberg is the President and CEO of Ortho Spine Partners and sits on several company and industry related Boards. He also is the Creator and Editor of OrthoSpineNews.

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