In 2005, a 73-year-old-woman was treated in the emergency room of Baptist Medical Center East in Alabama. The woman tested positive for a dangerous drug-resistant bacterium. However, her test results were never communicated to her treating physician and the woman died a couple of days later. Shortly thereafter, a representative from the woman's family filed a medical malpractice suit against the medical center. In 2011, a jury returned a $3.2 million award. Baptist Health argued that the jury award should be tossed out because it had immunity based on its relationship with the University of Alabama at Birmingham Health System. However, on February 28, the Alabama Supreme Court upheld the $3.2 million judgment, finding that the university-affiliated Health Care Authority for Baptist Health did not qualify for the legal immunity that is granted to state entities. The court held that the functions of the public hospital were not unique to the government and therefore, public hospitals need to defend themselves when they are being sued.
Contact with health care professionals is a necessary part of our society and almost always beneficiary. However, providers are human and mistakes can be made. Even the most careful health care professionals can make a mistake that injures a patient. Courts are now finding that public hospitals cannot dismiss medical malpractice lawsuits or limit jury awards simply because they have a relationship with state entities. Luckily, the legal immunity that is granted to state entities does not automatically extend to public hospitals. Therefore, people who have suffered from injuries or death as a result of a medical mistake made at a public hospital are not necessarily excluded from bringing forth their claims. However, not all medical mistakes rise to the level of malpractice. The skilled medical malpractice attorneys at Meyerkord & Kurth, LLC will help you if you believe you are the victim of medical malpractice. Our medical malpractice attorneys continue to set the standard for representation of difficult cases. If you have a medical malpractice issue, contact us at (314) 436-9958 or (800) 391-4318 to schedule a no-obligation meeting with a medical malpractice attorney.
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