A look at some mishaps that led to big payouts.
The annals of medicine are filled with strange, one-of-a-kind cases and procedures; so too is the history of medical malpractice lawsuits.
While most malpractice cases are based on minor mistakes, these five cases saw patients seeking damages tied to life changing healthcare outcomes.
A diabetic Florida man received $1.15 million in settlements after he entered a hospital to have his right leg cut off below the knee due to a diabetes-related circulatory disease. After a series of mistakes, though, the man’s left leg was removed.
He had the proper leg removed at another hospital and he ultimately learned to walk using prosthetics.
The case led investigators to put a temporary ban on elective surgeries at the hospital.
A man lost his $3 million lawsuit against a Virginia doctor who followed his patient’s instructions.
The 33-year-old construction worker, who had stopped taking his anti-psychotic medicine a year prior, was working when he became convinced the number 666 was on his right hand. Believing the hallucination was evidence he was evil, the man removed the hand with a table saw on the job site.
The man’s coworkers preserved the hand in a cooler and he was rushed to the hospital where he initially agreed to have the hand reconnected, but later changed his mind.
The doctor consulted a judge who said the man appeared competent and advised the doctor the man could sue if he reattached the hand against the man’s wishes. Under state law, the consultation with the judge shielded the doctor and hospital from liability.
A New York couple sued a fertility clinic in 2007 for unspecified damages after their attempt to have a second child was successful.
When the baby girl was born the pair suspected there may have been a mix up at the clinic as the child didn’t seem to resemble her white father. A series of DNA tests revealed the baby was the product of another man’s sperm.
While the results of the cases have not been publicized, the New York Supreme Court did throw out the majority of the couple’s claims saying that “(t)he birth of an unwanted but otherwise healthy and normal child does not constitute an injury to the child's parents."
A California woman was seeking unspecified damages in a suit against a hospital she says left something behind during a surgery.
The woman had a procedure to have a benign tumor removed from her abdomen and had been discharged for weeks before she was rushed to an emergency department complaining of severe pain in her back, kidney, and abdomen. ED doctors discovered an eight-inch pair of surgical forceps.
Ultimately, the woman had 18 inches of her small intestine removed after it had looped through the handle of the forceps.
It is unclear who prevailed in the suit.
A Philadelphia woman briefly received a nearly $1 million jury award after she sued a university hospital for ruining her psychic business.
The woman claimed that an allergic reaction to a pre-CAT scan dye injection left her with severe, recurring headaches which left her unable to use the alleged psychic powers she harnessed to make a living.
Before the procedure she claimed to be able to read auras, conduct seances, see both the future and the past, and help police solve crimes.
Ultimately, the jury award was thrown out on appeal.