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Hospital Settles Medical Malpractice Lawsuits for $3.7 Million

Hospitals have an influx of people entering, exiting, and checking-in every day. People go to the hospital for different reasons. Emergency rooms see patients with medical emergencies, minor pains and injuries, and when doctors’ offices are closed. Hospitals also contain primary doctors and specialists who see patients as a part of their scheduled doctor visits. Other departments within the hospital include the intensive care unit (ICU), labor and delivery, and the surgical department. Whatever the reason may be that causes a person to go to the hospital, he or she entrusts their health and health care to the trained medical professionals to provide adequate and appropriate care and treatment. When a medical professional fails to meet the legal standard of care, it is medical malpractice.

Three incidents occurring in 2015 and 2017 claim that University of Iowa Hospitals (UIHC) and Clinics (UIHC) and its employees were negligent in the care or treatment of patients. In February 2015, Robert Davis underwent spinal fusion back surgery. He was left with a significant neurological injury, which cause him to become a paraplegic. Also in 2015, Ardeth Wray was diagnosed with a non-cancerous tumor in her brain. The doctor who diagnosed her recommended surgical removal. Wray developed an infection, which required additional surgeries, an ICU stay, and time in skilled care recovery. She suffered a stroke during one of her additional surgeries. In the aftermath, Wray suffered from significant memory loss, vision loss, limited ability to speak, and struggles with most cognitive functions.

The third incident involved the death of Sharon Wiese. On November 12, 2017, Wiese was admitted to UIHC. The staff examined her esophagus, stomach, and small intestine. They placed feeding tube; however, the tube was placed in her esophagus instead of properly placed in her stomach. The hospital gave her feedings while the tube was in the improper location, which caused aspiration pneumonia in her lungs. She ultimately died from the pneumonia.

The family members of the three patients filed lawsuits against UIHC for medical malpractice. Robert Davis and his wife alleged in their lawsuit that the hospital was negligent in performing the spinal fusion and caused his significant neurological injury. He also claimed that facility failed to get his informed consent to perform the back surgery and that the physicians were improper in diagnosing and treating the conditions that arose the back surgery.

Ardeth Wray’s daughters filed a lawsuit on behalf of their mother. They asserted that the doctor recommended surgical removal of a non-cancerous brain tumor even though factors showed there may have been better options. However, the hospital disagreed with this assertion and stated that Wray was given the option of surgery or observation, and she chose surgery after knowing the risk involved. Her daughters also accused the doctor of failing to treat a preoperative bacteria with antibiotics before surgery to reduce the risk of infection during the surgery. They alleged that this failure to treat the bacteria led to Wray developing an infection that has left her with severe disabilities. Her daughters are now her caretakers because she is unable to live independently.

The husband and adult children of Sharon Wiese filed a lawsuit against UIHC after she died from aspiration pneumonia caused by improper placement of a feeding tube. After the staff inserted the feeding tube, they did not perform a x-ray to confirm that the tub was in the correct location. When the hospital restarted her feedings, the contents were going into her lungs instead of her stomach. The lawsuit claims that the hospital and staff breach their standards of care, which led to Sharon’s death.

UIHC agreed to settle the three lawsuits. The hospital agreed to pay the three families a total of $3.7 million for the medical malpractice lawsuits. Out of the total amount, Robert Davis’ lawsuit settled for $1 million. The daughters of Ardeth Wray received $700,000. The remainder of the settlement went to the husband and adult children of Sharon Wiese in the amount of $2 million.

Medical malpractice occurs when a medical or healthcare professional performs an negligent act, wrongful act, or fails to act when they have duty to do so. As a result of the malpractice, the patient suffers an injury. Out of the injury and act, the patient may have damages in which he is entitled to seek compensation. The damages may be economic, such as medical expenses, rehabilitation, and lost wages. Other damages may be noneconomic losses including, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of companionship, mental anguish, and disfigurement.

To seek recovery for the damages arising from medical malpractice, the harmed patient or deceased patient’s family member may file a medical malpractice or wrongful death lawsuit against the medical institutions and the staff involved. Although a party may have a valid lawsuit for medical malpractice damages, he may not have the financial ability to start and continue through the legal process. Rather than forego the lawsuit, the party wanting to file a lawsuit may seek funding for the case.

Litigation funding or a lawsuit loan is financing by a third-party to pay for the costs associated with a lawsuit. Court costs, attorney’s fees, and other expenses are involved in the litigation process. The legal financing allows the plaintiff to seek legal representation based an attorney’s or law firm’s experience and knowledge rather than solely on the cost. The legal funding allow the attorney to handle the lawsuit without worrying if she will be paid. The benefit for the borrower of a litigation loan is that he only repays the loan if the case settles or wins at trial. The third-party financing company assumes the risk that it may not get its money back from the borrower. Although the financing company pays the cost of the lawsuit, it does not have control over the case. It is also not privy to the communication between the attorney and the client.


Litigation Funding