$700,000 Medical Malpractice Settlement

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$700,000 Medical Malpractice Settlement

This is a medical malpractice action for the recovery of damages. Plaintiff suffered total renal failure in as a result of uncontrolled hypertension, despite being under the care of defendants for blood pressure control over the prior three-year period. In short, defendants committed malpractice by failing to monitor plaintiff’s blood pressure at appropriate intervals, failing to call plaintiff back to the office for examinations, failing to refer plaintiff to a nephrologist (kidney specialist), and repeatedly approving requests for authorizations of refills of prescribed medications which were not ineffectively controlling the hypertension.

The 21 year old plaintiff suddenly began to experience blurred vision in his right eye. He went to a local doctor who referred him to an ophthalmologist in Sacramento. This ophthalmologist diagnosed severe hypertension, and advised him to see a physician for blood pressure control. Thereafter, the plaintiff’s father made an appointment with a local doctor Yuba City, who diagnosed severe hypertension, and sent the plaintiff across the street to the local hospital where he was admitted with a diagnosis of hypertension emergency.

The plaintiff was hospitalized for 3 days. His hypertension was brought under control with medications, and it was determined that he had been suffering long-standing hypertension which had begun to affect his renal function. Lab tests indicated mild renal insufficiency secondary to long-standing hypertension.

Following his discharge from the hospital plaintiff saw the local doctor again, who saw him on only a few occasions, and who prescribed three anti-hypertension medications. The plaintiff then came under the care of the defendant doctor, who was an internist in the employ of defendant Medical Foundation.

Plaintiff first saw the defendant doctor in July. His blood pressure was high despite being on the three medications. The doctor was aware of the history of the hypertension emergency and the mild renal insufficiency secondary to the long-standing hypertension. Nonetheless, he did not adjust the medications nor send his patient to a nephrologist.

Plaintiff saw defendant doctor a second time in August. Again, the blood pressure was elevated but no adjustments were made to the medication, and no referral to a nephrologist was made.

Plaintiff again saw the defendant doctor in November. Again, the blood pressure was elevated despite being on the medications. The doctor’s assessment at that time was “hypertension, with kidney involvement.” Nonetheless, plaintiff was not referred to a nephrologist nor were the medications adjusted or changed. The doctor’s note for November indicates that he wants to see the patient again in three months, however a return appointment was not made, nor was the patient ever again contacted by the Medical Foundation and advised to return for follow-up. The young plaintiff was under the impression that if he continued to refill his medications the blood pressure would remain under control and everything would be fine. He never thereafter received any type of communication from the doctor or the medical group advising him of a need to return for follow-up.

The defendant doctor then left the medical group to participate in a cardiac fellowship in another state. Between the time that he last saw the plaintiff and his leaving the Medical Foundation he authorized refills of the hypertension medications on six separate occasions, despite not knowing whether the medications were effective in controlling the hypertension. Then, after the defendant doctor’s departure from the Medical Foundation, various physicians at the Medical Foundation continued to approve refill authorization requests from the pharmacy for the same three ineffective medications. None of these physicians ever pulled the plaintiff’s medical chart, nor saw plaintiff personally to monitor his blood pressure to determine whether the medications were effective or not.

Finally, around the plaintiff’s 25th birthday, he began feeling sick. He felt puffy, his eyes were red, and he was extremely fatigued. He went to an urgent care clinic and was seen by a doctor, who immediately admitted him to Fremont Medical Center in Yuba City, where he was diagnosed with end stage renal disease secondary to malignant hypertension. In other words, he had suffered total kidney failure secondary to the uncontrolled hypertension. While in the hospital he finally came under the care of a nephrologist.

Following his discharge from Fremont Medical Center plaintiff has remained under the care of the nephrologist, and has been undergoing dialysis three times per week. He is on the kidney transplant list at U.C. Davis Medical Center.

The case settled for cash of $700,000 and preservation of plaintiff’s right to MediCal for an eventual kidney transplant and life-long treatment. The total value exceeds one million dollars.

Jeffrey R. Smith

Jeffrey R. Smith

Managing Partner

Robert B. Waldsmith

Robert J. Waldsmith

Partner, 1999

William B. Smith

William B. Smith

Partner, 1978

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