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Jury awards $135M in medical malpractice suit

When a doctor's act of negligence leads to a medical error, the patient is the one who suffers. Unfortunately, even the smallest error can cause severe illness, injury, permanent disability, or even death.

This is the situation in one case where a children's hospital and an orthopedic surgeon were recently sued for medical malpractice after negligent medical care reportedly left a young girl partially paralyzed. The jury awarded the plaintiff $135 million, which the plaintiff's attorney said was the largest single medical malpractice verdict awarded in the U.S.

The girl underwent spinal surgery at the age of 10 for scoliosis, during which doctors installed hardware along her spine. However, this hardware apparently caused severe pain and injury, which doctors failed to address. The plaintiff's attorney alleged that the girl's doctor went on vacation two times instead of relieving the compression on the girl's spinal cord. As a result, the now 17-year-old suffered permanent quadraparesis of her four extremities and lost bowel and bladder control. She reportedly could not walk and had to use a wheelchair for over a year. The hospital and the doctor reportedly claimed that the girl's injuries were caused by a phantom blood clot, but the plaintiff's attorney alleged that this was untrue.

Quadraparesis results in weakness in all four limbs, which often makes it difficult, if not impossible, for a patient to control his or her body. Patients will generally have to undergo various additional treatments, physical and mental therapy, and rehabilitation to regain some function and/or learn how to live without function in their limbs. Patients with quadriplegia or quadraparesis may also require around-the-clock care on either a short-term or long-term basis. Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Maryland against the parties responsible for permanent disabilities may help an individual and his or her family pay for these additional expenses.

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