Massachusetts Appeals Court Affirms $32.5M Medical Malpractice Award

The Massachusetts Appeals Court affirmed a $32.5M award to the family of Andrea Larkin in a medical malpractice lawsuit against Dedham Medical Associates and internal medicine specialist Jehane Johnston. Larkin suffered a massive stroke following childbirth, resulting in paralysis.  Plaintiffs argued that her primary care doctor did not notate brain abnormalities in her medical records resulting in her obstetrician being unaware of Larkin’s condition.  Larkin’s vascular condition warranted a cesarean section. On appeal, DMA claimed the lower court made erroneous rulings on its post trial motions but the appellate court affirmed the Superior Court’s judgment. Johnston settled with the plaintiffs in the Superior Court case and was not a party in the appeal. Massachusetts Appeal Court No. 17-P-960, TIMOTHY LARKIN vs. DEDHAM MEDICAL ASSOCIATES states:

Background. The unfortunate facts of this case are not disputed in this appeal. Andrea, a former elementary school teacher, exercise class instructor, and marathon runner, complained of persistent dizziness beginning in 2004. She underwent a magnetic resonance imaging procedure at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), which revealed a venous varix in her brain that was determined not to be a cause of her dizziness symptoms. Her primary care doctor, Jehane Johnston, an employee of DMA, was copied on the MGH report, but failed to note the venous varix on Andrea’s “problem list,” which is designed to alert a patient’s various treating physicians to her medical conditions. As a result, when Andrea became pregnant in 2007, her obstetricians were not informed about her venous abnormality. Andrea was not informed that this condition posed a particular risk of the venous varix rupturing during vaginal labor using the Valsalva maneuver or that an elective Caesarian section would avoid placing additional stress on the veins in her head and neck. Andrea delivered her daughter vaginally using the Valsalva maneuver in June of 2008.

Twelve hours after Andrea delivered her baby, she experienced a sudden, very painful headache, which accompanied a rupture of the venous varix in her brain. After having emergency surgery to remove a part of her skull and falling into a month-long coma, Andrea awoke to find that her legs and left hand were paralyzed, her trunk muscles were impaired, and that she had difficulty chewing, swallowing, and speaking. Despite having physical therapy twice per week, the occasional occupational, water, and speech therapies, and a “battery” of daily medications, Andrea’s injuries are permanent. She requires care around the clock and likely will for the duration of her lifetime.

Internal medicine physicians are typically primary care providers who treat patients on an outpatient basis. In addition to providing routine and preventative treatment, internists often serve as the gateway to care when patients develop symptoms that require advanced care by a specialist or in an emergency department. Litigation against primary care internal medicine physicians commonly involves allegations of missed or delayed diagnosis when a patient should have had additional testing, consultation, or evaluation in an emergency department. Contact Elite Medical Experts to secure a leading university internal medicine expert witness expert for your case.