The largest ever medical malpractice verdict was awarded on Monday to now-17-year-old Faith DeGrand from Wyandotte, Michigan. After a two week trial and 2.5 hours of deliberation, the 8 person jury found Detroit Medical Center’s Children’s Hospital of Michigan and two doctors guilty of malpractice, awarding $135 million to the girl.
Doctor Vacationed Twice While Victim Lay Paralyzed
Faith DeGrand was 10 years old when she went to Children’s Hospital of Michigan for a relatively routine pediatric scoliosis surgery. Following protocol for the surgery, a rod and screws were placed in her back to help straighten her spine. Her surgeon inappropriately placed the surgical hardware, causing compression on the young girl’s spine. Immediately following the surgery, Faith experienced severe pain, paralysis of her arms and legs, and lost all bowel and bladder control. She was unable to walk or use the bathroom, bound to a wheelchair and forced to use a catheter. Realizing the placement of the surgical devices was causing Faith’s injuries, another surgeon removed them. However, the damage was already done. Faith spent the next year in a wheelchair and will spend the rest of her life using a catheter and unable to have full control of her arms and legs, a condition known as a quadriparesis.
According to her attorney, Geoffrey Fieger, while $135 million is enough to pay the costs of changing a catheter for the rest of Faith DeGrand’s life, it is hardly a victory. The now-teenage girl must face a life that has been drastically altered as the result of an incompetent surgeon. Over the course of the trial it was revealed that Ms. DeGrand’s surgeon went on two separate vacations while she lay suffering from the aftermath of a surgery gone wrong. The hospital’s defense, which Mr. Fieger says was completely fabricated, was that Faith DeGrand must have had a blood clot that caused her injuries, not faulty technique and neglect by her surgeon. There was no evidence of a blood clot, no medical imaging showing the condition, nor notes in Ms. DeGrand’s medical chart indicating this as a possibility. It also does not explain why another surgeon realized Ms. DeGrand was suffering as a result of the misplaced rod and screws and immediately removed them.
The $153 million verdict is believed to be the largest in a medical malpractice case in the country.
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