Medical malpractice involves an act or an omission by a health care provider that deviates from accepted standards of practice and which causes injury to a patient. The elements necessary for the establishment of such a claim are that: (a) there was a legal duty; (b) that duty was breached; and (c) the breach caused an injury – financial or emotional. Expert witnesses are necessary in medical malpractice litigation to testify to issues relating to the standard of care that applied. Damages recoverable by a victim of medical malpractice may include compensatory and punitive damages, and damages may be assessed based on past and future loss.
Duffy + Fulginiti has obtained recoveries and settlements from most of the large teaching hospitals and universities in the Philadelphia area. These include recorded verdicts against the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Wills Eye Hospital, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Hahnemann University Hospital, Temple University Hospital, Misericordia Hospital, Jeanes Hospital, Aria Health and Mercy Catholic Medical Center.
- In Campbell, Duffy + Fulginiti won a $21,400,000 verdict on behalf of a diabetic man for treatment he received in the emergency room of Temple University Hospital. When Ronald Campbell was taken to the hospital in October of 2007, he was administered glucagons and glucopaste by emergency medical technicians, then discharged to family members, who found him unresponsive in bed the next morning. The defense argued that the treatment and discharge was proper, as Mr. Campbell had been brought to the hospital 11 times for high or low blood sugar levels in the five years prior (including one two days earlier), and that he failed to properly manage his diabetes by not complying with medical advice. However, the firm successfully argued that diabetics who suffer from repeated episodes of hypoglycemia develop a condition termed 'hypoglycemic unawareness' in which the brain becomes less sensitive to lower and lower glucose levels.
- Duffy + Fulginiti obtained a $20,500,000 confidential settlement from a major Philadelphia hospital and its doctors based on proof that the doctors failed to appreciate distress on a fetal monitoring strip. The doctors delayed performing a cesarean section which resulted in anoxic injury to the child and severe cerebral palsy.
- A confidential medical malpractice settlement of $15,000,000 was obtained against a hospital for a 33-year-old woman who suffered a stroke weeks after being discharged from the emergency room despite similar complaints. She now has a condition known as locked-in syndrome; much of her body and face is paralyzed, although she can communicate by performing certain eye movements (up and down) and slightly squeezing her right hand. Despite her care occurring in Montgomery County, Duffy + Fulginiti was successful in establishing and keeping the action in Philadelphia County.
- A $13,500,000 confidential settlement was obtained from a major Philadelphia hospital and its doctors based on our proof that an attending maternal fetal medicine physician and residents who were asked to monitor a mother's labor failed to see that an increase in her glucose level was caused by a failure to properly administer insulin. The doctors delayed initiating delivery for the child, resulting in an anoxic injury, causing severe cerebral palsy.
- A young professional man visited a hospital ER in the region complaining of back pain, chest pain, headache and cough. Even though a number of tests indicated emergency surgery was needed that could not be performed at that hospital, the hospital delayed the transfer of the patient to another hospital and failed to include critical test results when the patient was finally transferred. Sadly, the patient died. The defendants argued that underlying medical issues, including Marfan syndrome and mitral valve prolapse, were contributing factors out of their control, that the patient was in significant end-organ dysfunction upon arrival and that he would not have survived the surgery. However, Duffy + Fulginiti obtained a $7,500,000 settlement for his surviving wife and young child.
- In Divon, Duffy + Fulginiti won a $6,000,000 verdict against Wills Eye Hospital for Peter Divon, a forklift operator who suffered blindness in one eye as a result of an infection which developed following a surgery to repair a detached retina. The verdict was reported as one of the largest verdicts in Pennsylvania that year.
- In Smith, Duffy + Fulginiti won a $4,500,000 verdict against Misericordia Hospital, finding the hospital negligent in their testing and treatment of David Smith, ultimately resulting in his death. Mr. Smith was taken by his mother to Misericordia, and ultimately died of an aortic dissection after the hospital staff failed to properly treat or diagnose Mr. Smith’s condition. The jury returned its verdict after a 2 week trial. The verdict was reported as one of the largest verdicts in the state that year.
- In Williams, Duffy + Fulginiti secured a $5,700,000 verdict after a mentally impaired man who had been admitted to a hospital for self-inflicted stab wounds was left alone and leaped from a fourth-floor window.
- $3,500,000 was obtained for the family of a 39-year-old man in good health who was brought to the emergency room with complaints of a headache, so severe that he could not stand or function at work. After about an hour in the ER, he felt better. Without ordering a CAT scan or neurological consultation, the ER discharged the man. Weeks later, he collapsed on the street and was rushed to the hospital where imaging showed a brain lesion responsible for his headaches had ruptured, leaving him with irreversible and permanent brain damage. He never fully regained consciousness and died 3 years later.
- In Williams, Duffy + Fulginiti obtained $2,750,000 for a man with a history of schizophrenia who, left unattended in a crisis response center waiting for treatment for conjunctivitis, went into a bathroom and removed his own eye.
- In Graves, a jury returned a $2,000,000 verdict following a 5 day trial, finding that Hahnemann Hospital and its staff committed malpractice during a surgical procedure by severing nerves in the client's throat. This verdict was especially remarkable considering no claim for lost wages or medical bills was made – the verdict was based entirely “pain and suffering."
- In Rivera, the firm successfully argued before a Philadelphia Jury that a 31-year-old man’s poor care at a local hospital led to his death, obtaining a $750,000 verdict for his family.