Providence, RI – June 17, 2016 – On Monday, June 13, 2016, a Providence County, Rhode Island Superior Court jury awarded a 54-year-old Johnston resident, Elaine Willard, $8,600,000 in compensation for severe permanent spinal injuries sustained as a result of a delayed treatment of a postoperative spinal infection in August 2010. The delay followed a miscommunication over a laboratory result — an abnormal gram stain from fluid around her spine — which showed the infection 48 hours before her doctors knew it was present. The delay in treating the infection caused sepsis, damage to the woman’s surgically repaired spine, and ate away at the tissues, muscles, and ligaments surrounding her spinal column.
Lead counsel Michael Patrick Quinn of the Decof, Barry, Mega & Quinn, P.C. law firm, located in Providence, assisted by second chair Marshall Raucci, successfully argued to the jury that Roger Williams Medical Center was negligent in its maintenance of an unclear hospital laboratory policy, known as the Critical Value Policy. Attorney Quinn demonstrated that the doctors and laboratory staff had a different understanding of whether the Critical Value Policy required the gram stain result to be called directly to the doctors. When the doctors did not receive a phone call, they assumed the result was normal and did not look up the result themselves.
The trial lasted two and a half weeks and the jury deliberated for one day before delivering its verdict that the hospital was negligent. With prejudgment interest, the $5,500,000 verdict resulted in a judgment of $8,600,000.