Last week, Thomas P. Meehan's family was awarded $1.4 million from Albany Medical Center Hospital for its negligence in causing Mr. Meehan's death.
Mr. Meehan, a carpenter, was the 19-time elected municipal supervisor of the town of Windham.
He had entered Albany Medical on November 11, 2009 for hip replacement surgery. He was 61 at the time. After the operation, he was ostensibly fine: he was doing physical therapy the day after his procedure. However, the following days -- the 13th and 14th -- Mr. Meehan was showing signs of pulmonary emboli: shortness of breath and an increased heart and respiratory rate. The next day, he was gone.
It turned out he did have pulmonary embolism: two blood clots in his lungs had travelled from other areas of his body. His physician, Dr. Aniko Felligi, was accused of ignoring the signs and not ordering scans that might have saved Meehan. He might have also prescribed the anti-coagulant, heparin, for example, to lessen the possibility of clotting.
The $1.4 million is entirely economic damages. It turns out the award the Greene County Supreme Court jury determined was larger than the award the plaintiff's attorney asked for.
In a failure to diagnose and recognize blood clot case, we look to see if there were indications that the doctors should have taken steps to anticipate that clots could form. If the answer is 'yes', then the next question is "What medication or treatment would have changed the outcome?"
Another challenge in this type of death case is the age of this young man. Without having a significant work history and earnings history, it becomes difficult to explain why a jury should award him lost wages that would have continued on throughout his working lifetime.
The news report does not discuss his education and whether he was in college but that also is important since statistically a college graduate will typically out-earn a non-college graduate over the course of their lifetime.
In a death case involving these types of damages, it is important to bring in an expert such as an economist to help the jury understand what the value of money is today and how it changes over time.
As a practicing medical malpractice, wrongful death, and personal injury attorney in New York, I deal with wrongful deaths like this every day. If you have experienced related problems, I want you to pick up the phone and call me. I can help.
If you would like more information about how medical malpractice and wrongful death cases work in the state of New York, I encourage you to explore my educational website. If you have legal questions, I urge you to pick up the phone and call me at 516-487-8207 or by e-mail at [email protected] to answer your questions. That's what I do every day. I welcome your call.