Los Angeles Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Settled for $1.175M

A medical malpractice settlement has been reached for $1.175 million between Los Angeles County and a patient of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center who suffered a punctured blood vessel. 

The agreement stems from a claim brought by Lisa D. Gaffney, the guardian of Amber Dunn, who was treated at the hospital following an automobile accident in November 2008.

A catheter tip being inserted into Dunn while she was being treated for her injuries accidentally punctured a blood vessel wall, according to allegations raised by Gaffney.

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The medical mistake caused Dunn further medical complications, but she was treated and released several days later. The details of the settlement released by the county did not indicate what complications Dunn, a minor at the time, suffered due to the injury.

The California malpractice lawsuit was originally filed on June 3, 2009, in Los Angeles Superior Court, accusing the county-run hospital of negligence due to the incident. On January 4, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a settlement of the case (pdf).

County officials said that they could not successfully fight the claim in court due to what is known as the Res Ipsa Loquitur doctrine, which states that an entity is presumed to be negligent even if there is no sign of an act of negligence, as long as they had exclusive control over the device that caused the injury.

As a result of the incident, nursing staff at the hospital were re-educated on their use of the catheters, according to county records.


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