A settlement was recently reached in a case involving Lisa Speckman, a Bountiful Utah woman who walked into LDS Hospital to give birth and now has no legs to stand on or right arm to write with.
According to a story in the Salt Lake Tribune, Ms. Speckman developed a “flesh-eating” disease that led to the amputation of both of her legs above her knees and her right arm above the elbow. In the ordeal, she also lost her reproductive organs, much of her large intestine and her gall bladder.
In her medical malpractice lawsuit, Speckman alleged that negligence by IHC and LDS Hospital caused the necrotizing fascitis that invaded her body after the birth of her child in February of 2005. According to the suit, doctors ignored signs of infection both before and after the baby was born and failed to perform tests.
Her settlement was with LDS Hospital and Intermountain Health Care. The University of Utah Hospital was also named in the medical negligence claim because they provided medical residents that apparently took part in Speckman’s treatment. The settlement amount was confidential but appears to be substantial. The cost of future care and treatment alone for Lisa Speckman was projected to be at least $15 million.
Kudos to the lawyers who obtained justice for Mrs. Speckman. Medical malpractice claims by an attorney against hospitals alleging failure to diagnose and treat infection are difficult and require showing that the medical provider(s) violated accepted standards of medical practice leading to the injury. Many bad consequences in hospitals are simply seen as “accepted complications” of a medical procedure. For example, a woman who goes into a hospital for a hysterectomy and leaves with a hole in her colon or her bladder, will usually not have a claim since these types of injuries are seen as “accepted complications” of the procedure. The doctor in those cases, however, still has a duty to look for injury caused by the surgery and to take care of it if there is one.
Even though the settlement with the hospital may have been significant, it will never make up for the life that has been taken away from Lisa Speckman because of the doctor(s) negligence. Hopefully this settlement will cause LDS Hospital to train its doctors to be more careful in catching and treating infections that their patients have.
Published by: Ron Kramer