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PRESS RELEASE: Snyder & Wenner wins $15 million verdict against Banner UMC Tucson

Snyder & Wenner, P.C., is proud to announce that two of its attorneys, David Wenner and Brian Snyder, won a $15 million verdict against Banner UMC Hospital in Tucson. The trial took 3 weeks and the jury deliberated for approximately 3.5 hours before returning the monumental verdict. It is believed that the verdict is the highest for a medical malpractice trial in Arizona in the last 20 years. 

Esmeralda Tripp, 42 years old, walked into UMC Hospital on September 13, 2013. She was on a medication called Coumadin, and her blood levels were extremely high. She was treated by a resident physician, only 8 weeks out of medical school, and an attending physician. Ms. Tripp had experienced this problem many times in the past, and each time they treated her with Fresh Frozen Plasma, with Vitamin K, or simply by withholding her Coumadin. The resident physician, however, decided to suggest a very dangerous blood-clotting medication called Profilnine. The hospital had a specific guideline on when Profilnine could be used: The patient had to have serious or life-threatening bleeding or require emergency surgery. In those two scenarios, Profilnine could be used. Esmeralda did not have any serious or life-threatening bleeding, and she did not require emergency surgery. The resident physician still suggested Profilnine, and the attending physician signed off on it. After the drug was administered, the resident went home for the night because she was tired. The attending physician left the hospital before the drug was even given. Only 2 hours later, Esmeralda screamed out in pain and her vital signs crashed. It was determined that she had suffered a heart attack. She was without oxygen for so long that she suffered severe, permanent brain damage. Seven weeks later she was discharged from the hospital, in a completely unresponsive state. It has been 4 years, and Esmeralda is still completely unresponsive. Her family cares for her and she receives in-home care provided by the state.

At trial, the defense attorney argued that his clients did nothing wrong. He repeatedly told the jury that the hospital’s own guideline was simply a “suggestion,” and that the doctors could do what they wanted. He also argued that Esmeralda did not deserve any money for her injuries because she had incorrectly told prior doctors about a lengthy medical history that did not exist. Finally, he told the jury that since Esmeralda is not aware of her injuries, she does not need any money for them. 

Brian Snyder gave the plaintiff’s opening statement and told the jury what happened and how Esmeralda’s life has been permanently ruined by these doctors’ choice. Along with David Wenner, the two cross-examined defendants and their experts, obtaining numerous admissions throughout the trial. Co-counsel Kevin Keenan gave the closing argument, and asked for $15-20 million to compensate Esmeralda for her losses. Only 3.5 hours later, the jury came back with precisely what they were asked to award: $15 million, which will help pay for the around-the-clock medical care that Esmeralda needs and which will compensate her for robbing her of her independence. 

NPR: Medical Malpractice No. 3 Cause of U.S. Deaths

For years we have been telling the public all of the statistics supporting the finding that medical malpractice accounts for one of the leading causes of death in our country. A new study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine, and reported by NPR, now confirms it.

Based on the research, Johns Hopkins now estimates that more than 250,000 Americans die each year from medical errors. That ranks medical malpractice as the 3rd leading cause of death in our country, behind only heart disease and cancer. The study also noted, however, that the numbers may be even more significant, as the current coding system used by the Center For Disease Control does not account for very important factors that lead to medical malpractice, including communication breakdowns, diagnostic errors, and poor judgment. 

The problem is so significant, in fact, that the doctors in charge of the study actually called for changed to be made in death certificates to better reflect fatal lapses in case. In an open letter, they also urge the CDC to immediately add “medical errors” to its annual list reporting the top causes of death.

So, since this is such a significant problem, we must ask ourselves “why is nothing being done to reverse the alarming trend?” Rather than attack the problem head on, insurance companies and hospitals have engaged in a dangerous game of pointing the finger at the victims and the victims’ families who try to hold the doctors and hospitals accountable for their conduct. Tort reform is not the answer; a safer and more responsible system of medicine is.

Common Types of Birth Injuries

In a previous blog, we discussed different tips expecting mothers can take to protect themselves and their babies from birth injuries. However, to more effectively safeguard yourself and your unborn child from harm during pregnancy, labor, and delivery, you need to know which injuries you and your baby could face.

Below, we discuss the most common types of birth injuries your child could sustain, as well as the conditions you are at risk for. Read on to learn which types of injury you and your baby could face so you can reduce your chances for injury.

How to Deal with Grief in Your Family from Wrongful Death


When children or teens experience the death of someone they are close to—whether it be a parent, sibling, friend, or mentor—they can undergo intense feelings of grief, anger, and loneliness. Lack of maturity and life experience can make children feel powerless in the face of sorrow.

The trauma of loss can be extremely difficult for children to withstand, but when the death of a loved one is caused by the negligence of someone else, feelings of anguish can be overwhelming. Of course, a wrongful death is painful for everyone in the family, but adults need to help children and teens deal with mourning and grief.

Healing comes with understanding, communication, and time. Below are some ideas on how you can help your children cope with the wrongful death of a loved one.

Protect Yourself against Psychiatric Malpractice


Like all doctors, psychiatrists—medical practitioners who specialize in mental illnesses—are held to certain standards of diagnosis, treatment, and care. If a psychiatrist violates his or her duty to patients, that psychiatrist may be charged with medical malpractice.

Standards of medical skill help protect both psychiatrists and patients, but when those standards are violated, psychiatric malpractice may have occurred. This blog discusses what psychiatric malpractice is and how to protect against it.

Emergency Room Malpractice? What You Need to Know


In 2010, an ABC News story shocked America when it revealed that the average emergency room visitor had to wait over four hours to receive treatment. The absurd wait time was attributed to overcrowding in public hospitals.

Since that time, hospitals around the country have made extensive efforts to decrease their ER wait times. In 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the average patient waited just 30 minutes before treatment.

The improvement is laudable, but for some, a 30-minute wait is still too long. Unfortunately, emergency room malpractice occurs frequently, and legal action may be required to receive compensation for injuries caused by or exacerbated as a result of a long wait or an ER doctor’s negligence.

Six Common Types of Medical Malpractice


It is widely known that doctors and other medical professionals can make serious errors due to negligence. What is less known is how those errors permanently impact the victims of malpractice. These victims are forced to deal with the emotional and physical consequences of the injuries that doctors cause. Those effects commonly impact the rest of their lives.

Despite the life-changing outcomes, some malpractice victims don’t seek compensation. Many patients simply are not sure if medical malpractice occurred in their specific situation. People mistakenly believe that errors can just happen in a hospital, so no one is responsible for that. Other victims wait too long to consult a lawyer, and the statute of limitations expires. In Arizona, the statute of limitations on medical malpractice is two years from when the person knew or should have known of the injuries to put him/her on notice to investigate what caused the injuries. This deadline can often be confusing, as doctors may tell the patient that his/her outcome is expected and normal, when, in fact, it is not.

Nursing Homes Force Binding Arbitration


Placing your loved one in a nursing home is not an enviable task. Nursing homes are notorious for their poor, substandard care of their patients, and handing your family member over to inattentive caretakers is disconcerting, at best. Nursing homes know their reputation in the public eye; they know that decades of poor care has resulted in mistrust and skepticism. This view has spilled over into the courtrooms, where jurors have routinely held nursing homes accountable for the deaths and/or mistreatment of patients to the tune of millions of dollars for each grieving family member.

How to Detect Nursing Home Abuse


6 Signs That Your Loved One Needs a Better Nursing Home

According to the International Journal of Epidemiology, the elderly population ages 85 and above will increase by nearly 350 percent in America by 2050. This statistic holds dramatic implications for nursing home care throughout the country.

If your loved one already lives in a long-term care facility or nursing home, you may already know about the facility’s challenges. For one thing, many nursing homes are short staffed—a problem that will only grow in coming years. Unfortunately, staffing pressures sometimes lead to neglect and elder abuse in some cases.

Watch for the following warning signs at your local nursing home so you can safeguard your loved one from neglect or abuse.

How to Protect Yourself & Your Baby from Birth Injuries


Plan Ahead to Protect Yourself and Your Baby from Birth Injuries

The months of pregnancy before your child’s birth bring excitement and anticipation. As a new parent, you look forward to welcoming a new baby into your life, and you want to do everything you can to prepare for his or her arrival. You research child care, baby-proof your home, and take extra precaution when you exercise and eat. You do these things to ensure the optimal health of your child.

However, even if you do everything you can to prepare for the birth and maintain your baby’s health, there are always risks involved with the birthing process. And while you hope for the best outcome for a happy, healthy baby, you also need to prepare in case of a medical emergency or negligence on the part of your doctor.

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