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$4.1 Million Jury Verdict for Child

Amount: $4,100,000
Court: Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court
Plaintiff’s Counsel: William S. Jacobson

Plaintiffs’ child suffered a stroke the day before her first birthday. The stroke left her with right sided paralysis and weakness. The cause of the stroke was investigated and was discovered to be moya-moya. Moya-moya is a disease which is characterized by smaller blood vessels than normal, in the brain. In February 1996, the child went to University Hospitals of Cleveland for a revascularization of her brain. The procedure was successful and Lauren showed some improvement.

The physician at University Hospitals of Cleveland had asked the family to return to Cleveland in August 1996 for a cerebral angiogram to check on the status of her brain revascularization. The cerebral angiogram is done by injecting dye into the body’s arterial tree through the femoral artery (in the groin area) and then viewing that dye on fluroscopy as it reaches the cerebral vessels. The routine postoperative surveillance for an angiogram includes neurovascular checks of the leg into which the dye is injected. The reason for this is that an occasional complication of this procedure is a blood clot forming in the femoral artery as a result of the interruption of the vessel when the dye is injected. Neurovascular checks include checking the pulse in the foot of that leg, as well as checking the temperature of the leg and the capillary refill (pinching the skin and timing how long it takes for the color to return).

Plaintiffs alleged in their lawsuit that the posteoperative surveillance done on the child was inadequate and that she was permitted to leave the hospital with compromised circulation in her right leg as a result of a blood clot. The defendant denied this allegation, pointing out that a resident had documented very positive findings in that leg on the morning of discharge. Plaintiffs argued that the nurses had found otherwise and that this dispute between physician and nurses should have been addressed by the attending physician.

Two days after the child was discharged from University Hospitals, she returned with an obvious clotting problem in that leg. Over the next seven years, the child had multiple procedures to improve the circulation of her right leg, one of which procedures led to a complication known as compartment syndrome. As a result of the compartment syndrome, the child’s right lower exteremity became deformed and the muscle wasted away. Ultimately, in July of 2003, she was requried to undergo a below the knee amputation.

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