Publication Date: 3/21/2012
Source: Palo Alto Dailey News (CA)
March 21–The Palo Alto Medical Foundation has been slapped with a $22 million medical malpractice verdict after a Menlo Park woman suffered a stroke during an unnecessary procedure and lost the use of her arms and legs, her attorney said.
Doctors at the medical foundation ordered an angiogram on Oct. 20, 2006, to investigate an abnormal vein in the brain of Robyn Frankel, who was seeking treatment for migraines, said Jeff Mitchell of San Francisco-based law firm Emison Hullverson Mitchell LLP. The procedure was done at Stanford Hospital & Clinics because the medical foundation lacked the necessary facilities.
The vein, however, had nothing to do with the migraines and the angiogram wasn’t necessary, Mitchell said.
When dye for the angiogram was injected into the blood vessels of her brain, Frankel suffered a vasospasm and fell into a coma, Mitchell said. She was a quadriplegic when she woke up roughly two weeks later.
“All she thought was, ‘Thank God I’m alive,'” Mitchell said.
According to the verdict handed down Monday, a Santa Clara County Superior Court jury composed of six men and six women concluded after three days of deliberations that the Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s “negligence was a substantial factor in causing harm to Robyn Frankel.”
The trial itself began on Feb. 21 and included testimony from 15 experts for the plaintiff, Mitchell said.
The $22 million medical malpractice verdict is among the largest
ever handed down in the county, Mitchell said.
“This will provide her with just enough money to take care of her for the rest of her life,” he said.
The actual award will be much less than $22 million, said Eric Bailey, a spokesman for Consumer Attorneys of California. About $16 million is for past and future economic losses. The rest is for human suffering, which under the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act of 1975 will be reduced to $250,000.
Daniel Smith, who works on appeals of medical malpractice cases related to the act, said it’s also possible the judge in Frankel’s case could lower or raise the award.
Stanford Hospital & Clinics was also named in the suit filed in 2008, but chose to settle for a confidential amount on the first day of trial, Mitchell said.
Frankel, who still lives in her Menlo Park home, is confined to a wheelchair and requires around-the-clock care. Her speech is slow and difficult, but her mental facilities are sharp as ever, Mitchell said. She has two children, ages 10 and 16, with her ex-husband; the couple divorced following the injury.
Before the stroke, Frankel, now 48, worked as a property manager for her family’s business, said Mitchell.
The Palo Alto Medical Foundation did not respond to an email and phone call for comment Tuesday afternoon, although a spokeswoman who was out of the office said she would forward the inquiry to a colleague. A call left for the foundation’s attorney, Frank Schimaneck, also went unreturned.
Smith said the medical foundation will have two to three months to appeal the final judgment once one has been issued.
(c)2012 the Palo Alto Daily News (Menlo Park, Calif.)
Visit the Palo Alto Daily News (Menlo Park, Calif.) at www.paloaltodailynews.com