Wisconsin Malpractice Settlement of $17.3M for Brain Damaged Girl

The family of an 8 year old girl who was left brain damaged after a her surgeon negligently misused a medical device during the removal of her spleen, will receive a $17.3 million settlement from the Wisconsin medical malpractice compensation fund.

The case was filed on behalf of Shelbey Bomkamp against Dr. Leonard Go, who performed the surgery at St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin.

According to the medical malpractice lawsuit, Dr. Go used a “Morcellator” during the procedure, which is a blender-like device used to chop up the spleen during the removal process. However, Dr. Go admitted during depositions that he had never used the device before.

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The family alleged that the surgeon negligently punctured the bag in which the spleen had been encased during the procedure. This resulted in severe internal injuries and permanent brain damage for the young girl.

The surgical mistake left Shelbey Bomkamp unable to speak, requiring a feeding tube and confined to a wheelchair. She requires 24 hour care and is only able to communicate by blinking her eyes.

On April 15, 2009, Judge Maryann Sumi of the Dane County Circuit Court, approved a settlement in which the child will receive $17.3 million, which is believed to be the larges known Wisconsin medical malpractice payment in the county.

Under the malpractice laws in Wisconsin, Dr. Go’s insurance carrier will be responsible for only the first $1 million of the settlement, and a state compensation fund will pay the remainder.

In 1975, the state created the Wisconsin Patients’ Compensation Fund to provide Wisconsin-based healthcare provides with extra medical malpractice coverage. Healthcare providers are only required to obtain primary insurance for $1 million per occurrence and $3 million aggregate for the year. Any claims that exceed that amount are covered by the medical malpractice compensation fund.

The Fund is operated by a 13 member Board of Governors and all health care providers are required to participate unless a statutory exemption applies.

According to a report published in March 2009, only three payments from the Wisconsin Patients’ Compensation Fund have exceed $10 million during the past five years. Over that period, the Fund has paid an average of $32 million annually, for nine claims per year.


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