Thursday, January 7, 2010

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

As the old cliche goes, no good deed goes unpunished. Last month a jury in Massachusetts awarded $15 million to the parents of a three year old boy, Jason Fox, who suffered postprocedure seizures and subsequently died while under the care of Boston Children's Hospital. The defendants were Dr. James Lock, a pediatric cardiologist and formerly physician in chief, and Dr. James DiNardo, the anesthesiologist.

Dr. Lock had unfortunately attempted heroic measures to repair the child's Tetralogy of Fallot after multiple operations at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia had failed. Dr. DiNardo, as far as I can tell, just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. It is unclear from the news his role in the complications after the failed procedures.

Even the lawyers were surprised by the size of the jury award. Normally damage awards of that size are given to plaintiffs who have lifetime medical expenses. The plaintiffs supposedly reached a settlement with the doctors that will lessen the amount of the damages they will collect. Though the hospital denies it, because of the trauma of this trial Dr. Lock has decided to retire. A fine physician forced to quit because of another example of the capricious jury system in this country.

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