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Pennsylvania Families Awarded in Medical Malpractice Cases

By Burg Simpson
June 25, 2012
2 min read

On June 1, a verdict was reached in what is being referred to as one of the largest medical malpractice cases in Pennsylvania.

According to court documents, 38-year-old Derrick Harlem was sent to Temple University Hospital in 2009 after he collapsed while playing a game of basketball. Although Harlem allegedly was displaying signs that are consistent with a heart attack, two of the hospital’s doctors discharged him with a pneumonia diagnosis and prescribed him ibuprofen and azithromycin, a well-known antibiotic.

However, three months later, Harlem returned to the hospital after collapsing again. This time, the doctors were unable to save him. According to the documents, Harlem’s health had been deteriorating over months due to an arterial blockage. The cause of his death was a massive heart attack.

Following his death, his family sued the two doctors who made the diagnoses as well as the Philadelphia hospital, citing medical negligence. After seven days of deliberation, the jury ruled in Harlem’s family’s favor, and awarded his five young children $6.4 million for the loss of guidance, tutelage and moral upbringing. The family’s lawyer said that although the family is happy with the decision, his children would give it all back to spend more time with their father.

On May 7, a Philadelphia woman was awarded a hefty sum after alleging doctors used substandard equipment during a childbirth procedure and ignored the signs that the child was suffering from lack of oxygen. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, prior to the child’s birth, doctors were allegedly unable to detect the boy’s heartbeat in a timely manner. Had the doctors monitored the heartbeat throughout the birth, the proper course of action would have been an emergency cesarean section to ensure a safe and successful birth. However, since the physicians were using inadequate equipment, the boy’s birth was delayed, which resulted in him suffering from cerebral palsy due to lack of oxygen.

Since brain injuries resulting in conditions such as cerebral palsy are so costly to take care of, and there were lost earnings and distress caused by this incident, a jury ruled that the boy’s mother would be given $78.5 million.

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