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Jury Finds HCA-Memorial Hospital Negligent, Fraudulent

January 23, 2012

Jacksonville Jury finds HCA-Memorial Negligent, Fraudulent- Awards Family $178 MILLION

A lawsuit conducted in Duval County Circuit Court against Memorial Hospital concluded today when the jury awarded Clay Chandler and his family $ 10 Million in punitive damages. This amount is in addition to the $168 million in liability this jury awarded last Friday. In addition to the compensation awarded, the jury found that Memorial Hospital committed medical negligence and fraud in the Chandler case. This verdict is one of the largest seen in Northeast Florida and the charge of fraud is a rare occurrence in a civil case.

Clay Chandler, a former Lieutenant in the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, was a patient at Memorial Hospital between March and May 2007. He was admitted to Memorial Hospital to undergo laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery under the care of Dr. John Deperi. Complications arising from the surgery were severe and went undiagnosed or treated in a timely manner causing Chandler to go into cardiac arrest and septic shock. He ultimately suffered a hypoxic brain injury and was in a coma from March 17, 2007 through approximately April 4, 2007. While Chandler was in ICU in a comatose state, physician orders directed health care personnel to apply two drops to both eyes every 8 hours for three days. Hospital records indicate that only two applications of drops to his eyes were performed. During that period Chandler’s eyes were described as being red with drainage and edema, and he suffered permanent damage to both corneas. While a patient in Memorial’s critical care unit, he also suffered contractures (frozen joints) and bedsores “ all due to a lack of basic human care and absolutely below the standard of care for which hospitals are universally responsible.

“This case was about honesty and safety rules and a hospital corporation that ignored them,” said Chandler’s attorney Tom Edwards, of the Jacksonville trial law firm Edwards & Ragatz. “The evidence presented to the jury showed that HCA – Memorial Hospital deceived the public and the Chandlers about their bariatric program that they call the Memorial Bariatric Surgery Center. They obtained a prestigious national certification called the “Bariatric Center of Excellence” but evidence showed they then did not follow the basic patient safety standards that were a part of this program – including letting a surgeon do these very complex surgeries unsupervised when his file showed he was not qualified to do the surgery. Because of the failure to follow basic safety standards, Clay is brain damaged, permanently disabled and needs full time care for the rest of his life.”

“The Chandlers are pleased that this Jury found that HCA/Memorial Hospital should be responsible for Clay’s care and not the tax payers and health insurers of the state of Florida,” said Edward’s law partner Eric Ragatz.

Memorial Hospital of Jacksonville is part of HCA, the nation’s leading provider of healthcare services that includes 164 hospitals and 11 freestanding surgery centers in 20 states and England. HCA revenues in 2010 were more than $30 billion.