In 2010, a 52 year old man named John Antonucci had an MRI at Hudson Valley Radiology Associations. Part of the process for the MRI involved a routine injection. A few days later at Nyack Hospital, doctors took a culture and released him 25 minutes later. However, two days after that visit Mr. Antonucci was rushed back to the hospital because he was experiencing extreme pain – the result of a serious infection that he claims was ignored by the doctors at Nyack Hospital. Because of the severity of the infection, Mr. Antonucci was forced to undergo hip replacement surgery three months later. The hip replacement left him unable to perform his duties as a construction worker.
Mr. Antonucci believes that the routine injection was the source of the bacterial infection he developed – and that the infection could have been contained or treated sooner had the doctor at Nyack Hospital not released him to go home despite having a culture which indicated an infection. Mr. Antonucci sued the head of orthopedic surgery, Dr. Jason Fond, in 2011 and the trial finally finished at the end of September of this year. The jury sided with Mr. Antonucci and awarded him 2.3 million dollars for his pain and suffering.
Hospital acquired infections cost more than just good health. Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) like the one Mr. Antonucci developed cost hospitals billions of dollars – money that could be better spent on literally anything else that’s healthcare related. The CDC’s 2013 report focused on five costly areas:
- Surgical site infections
- Bloodstream infections
- Urinary tract infections associated with catheter use
- Pneumonias associated with ventilators
- Clostridium difficile bacterial infections, the root cause of an intestinal condition called colitis According to their study, approximately 1 in every 25 people will develop an HAI, and about 10% of all HAIs will prove fatal.
In Maryland, legislators have capped non-economic damages at $800,000, considerably less than what Mr. Antonucci was awarded by the jury. While it’s impossible to say what a person’s hip is truly worth, it seems that $800,000 wouldn’t be nearly enough money for someone who has lost not only his ability to work in his field, but also his ability to walk without difficulty.
Misdiagnoses are a considerable problem in the healthcare system. If you have questions, I invite you to visit Plaxen & Adler, P.A.