In 1978, a teenager’s spinal cord was destroyed by medical professionals who were administering radiation to fight thyroid cancer. As a result of the trial that stemmed from a lawsuit the girl filed against the hospital and pertinent staff involved, the jury awarded $7.6 million to her. Most of the payments are going to payoff medical bills that have amassed because of malpractice.
At the time, it was believed to be the single, largest payment awarded in a malpractice suit in the United States.
The 18-year-old expressed thanks when she said that the jury was full of “wonderful people and now I have a chance for my life.”
The hospital’s legal counsel argued that the case was circumstantial at best. They also whined that the verdict was excessive. When asked, they said they would be pursuing an appeal of the jury’s verdict.
The wheelchair-bound girl was paralyzed in 1972 while she was receiving radiation therapy for a slow-growing thyroid cancer. The cancer was supposedly treatable, and as the standard procedures called for, she was to go through a six-week cycle of radiation treatment. As of the trial, she was not suffering from cancer anymore, but it was unknown how she had been cured of it.
Reports said that knowledgeable witnesses from the field of medicine testified at the trial that the paralysis was definitely caused by a double dose of radiation that hit around the voice box and destroyed the girl’s spinal cord.
That overlap of radiation fields was blamed for her paralysis, doctors said, even though no one took responsibility for it.
As appropriate, the jury was told that the young woman needed 24-hour care since, and because of, the incident. Her minimum costs for medical expenses each year was $55,000.
The hospital’s defense team from Nassau and Suffolk, said the paralysis was only due to an unusual reaction to the radiation and nothing else. They refused to accept any responsibility for an overdose. Again, he planned on appealing the “excessive” verdict.
Even after 10 surgeries, the young woman is expected to spend the rest of her life as a quadriplegic. The only appendage she has any use of is her right arm, but it is nearly useless.
Spinal injuries are devastating and cost a lot of money. Added to that is the bitter taste of medical malpractice in cases like this. When someone else is completely