Parents in Hawaii often find it necessary to entrust their children to the care of hospital surgeons. Most doctors and other medical staff members do their best to adhere to acceptable standards and safety regulations. However, mistakes often occur in the operating room, and the results can be quite tragic.
In 2009, an 8-month-old infant in another state was undergoing surgery when an apparent near-deadly error occurred. Doctors were attempting to remove a cancerous tumor from the child’s body at the time. By mistake, they reportedly lacerated his liver, a mistake which could have killed him. The situation necessitated many follow-up surgeries, and the boy now needs medical high-risk monitoring for the rest of his life.
In 2013, a jury ruled against the hospital and doctors resulting in a monetary judgement of more than $12 million to be awarded to the boy’s family. However, the hospital appealed the ruling, citing a 1967 Tort Claims Act that capped the amount of compensation a court can order against a public entity and its employees. Supporters of the family expressed outrage, stating that the hospital admitted its mistakes and should be held financially accountable for the full recovery ordered by the court.
The hospital apparently sent an email to an editorial board saying it deeply regretted its surgical errors, but it is protected from having to pay the full amount, which the court seems to have affirmed. Some have lamented a need for a change in the system and vow to continue to fight so that families whose children have been gravely injured by surgical errors obtain the maximum amount of compensation to which they are entitled. In Hawaii, personal injury attorneys often handle cases in which medical mistakes have been made and caused ongoing legal challenges for affected families.
Source: oregonlive.com, “OHSU follows up medical negligence with financial indifference: Editorial“, May 10, 2016