Kidney transplant victim's family to sue

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The family of a man who was the victim of an alleged medical malpractice incident at the University of Toledo hospital facilities is considering filing a civil claim against the organization. The incident, which has been highly publicized, involved a botched kidney transplant operation that likely included physician negligence. The transplant program at the university has since been suspended.

Information from the investigation revealed that physicians’ human error led to the man’s kidney being ruined during a transplant procedure. The kidney was intended for transplant in his sister, according to reports, though it became unusable after the initial operation.

Attorneys say that although the amount of damages that could be awarded to the family would be limited, they should still consider filing a civil case. Damages would be limited because the University of Toledo is a state institution, and caps exist to protect such organizations.

If the case proceeds, legal experts say that it would be heard by the Court of Claims of Ohio, a judicial forum for people who intend to bring claims against the state itself. The medical center involved in the botched transplant would both be named in the claim, according to attorneys, but the staff would be protected by civil immunity.

Some experts say filing the case in state court could also have advantages, particularly if the judges decide that the staff members are not immune from legal action.

In medical malpractice cases involving the state, compensatory damages are capped at $250,000, unless the injuries sustained are categorized as catastrophic. Catastrophic injuries generally involve the loss of a limb, the death of an organ, or the loss of the ability to live independently due to the physicians’ actions.

Experts say that very few medical malpractice claims are actually resolved, when compared to the number of malpractice incidents that occur. That is because patients are often unaware that they have been victims of malpractice.

Source: The Toledo Blade, “Family in kidney case could sue UT,” Erika Blake, Aug. 24, 2012