Many surgeries have an element of risk involved, but rarely do patients actually think bad things will happen to them during a stay in the hospital. There’s a certain expectation that the doctors and nurses will take care of their patients to the best of their ability. However, one incident at the Detroit Medical Center revealed that some healthcare professionals don’t always have the best interests of their patients in mind. According to a lawsuit that recently settled for $135 million, Faith DeGrand of Wyandotte, Michigan suffered crippling injuries that left her partially paralyzed in 2010 after being admitted to Children’s Hospital of Detroit Medical Center (DMC) for scoliosis surgery. What kind of crippling injuries did she sustain, and how?
According to attorney Geoffrey Fieger, during DeGrand’s surgery, the “surgeon inserted rods and screws to straighten her spine, which was fine…however, the way the surgeon inserted them caused compression of her spinal cord, resulting in numbness in Faith’s arms and legs.” He added that when a scoliosis surgery is performed, “the patient needs to have screws and hooks and bars taken out immediately.” Unfortunately for DeGrand, who was 10-years-old at the time of the surgery, her doctor left. In fact, he “went on vacation twice while she became paralyzed and lost the use of her bowel and bladder.”
According to the lawsuit, when the hardware around her spine was finally removed 10 days later, it was too late. Fieger said Faith had “became a quadriplegic with permanent loss of bladder and bowel control, in a wheelchair for a year.”
DMC pushed back against the allegations mentioned in the lawsuit, though. An attorney for the hospital argued during the trial that “Faith had gotten a blood clot and there was nothing they could do to prevent it or her injuries.”
Fieger pushed back against the attorney’s claims and pointed out that nobody saw evidence of a blood clot. He added, “there were no MRIs or anything that would indicate that. They literally made this up to go to trial.”
Fortunately for DeGrand and her family, the jury sided with them and found “the hospital and her doctor guilty of malpractice. At the end of the two-week trial, DeGrand was awarded $135 million,” which, Fieger said, “is the largest verdict in the U.S. for a single medical malpractice case.”
Despite the win, Fieger added that the verdict doesn’t feel like a victory because of the hard road his client has ahead of her. He said Faith will “have enough money to get her catheter changed for the rest of her life. That’s it. It is going to be difficult but it will make it a little bit easier. But that is all it can do.”