Virginia Malpractice Defense Verdict

Virginia Lawyers Weekly reports on an insane case in Virginia where an emergency room doctor in Hampton received a defense verdict.

After a night of partying, the decedent and his friend got into a dispute over whether the decedent would drive drunk from Hampton back home to Atlanta with his 4-year-old son. The best friend did what best friends usually do – he stabbed him in the thigh.

The decedent was taken to the emergency room. Plaintiff’s malpractice lawsuit claimed that the emergency room doctor should have sought out detailed information about the length of the knife. The defendant was told only that the decedent was stabbed with a knife and that the length of the blade was unknown. The defendant assumed it was a small blade.

Turns out it was a very large blade and his injuries did not resolve. As the decedent was deteriorating, following a transient response to the fluid resuscitation, the defendant called in a general surgeon who arrived three hours later and told the ER doctor that the decedent was in hemorrhagic shock secondary to a stab wound and blood loss. The general surgeon instructed the emergency room physician to transfer the decedent to the ICU. Sadly, the stabbing victim died.

Plaintiff’s Virginia medical malpractice lawyer contended that the defendant should have responded more aggressively to treat the injury.

People who get stabbed and blame their injuries on medical malpractice usually don’t fare too well at trial. So the defense verdict is no surprise. I was surprised that an offer of $500,000 was rejected. Usually, in a case where the jury has an easy target to blame – the criminal who stabs the victim – it becomes difficult to pin the injuries or death on medical malpractice. But in this case, they got a $500,000 offer. I wonder whether it was the family or the malpractice lawyer that suggested rolling the dice.