Baldwin County, Alabama: On December 13, 2012, an Alabama jury returned a 140 million wrongful death verdict. The lawsuit stated Thomas Hospital outsourced its medical transcription service to India and that a transcription error resulted in a fatal medication dosage. According to the attorney for Sharron Juno, on March 18, 2008, Ms. Juno was discharged from Thomas Hospital. Unbeknownst to her treating physician, the Discharge Summary he dictated was outsourced by the hospital and ultimately transcribed in Mumbai, India and New Delhi, India. The transcript contained three critical errors, including the dosage of Levemir insulin, which was written incorrectly as 80 units rather than eight (10 times the prescribed dose). She was given a fatal dosage of insulin based on the admission paperwork the hospital had sent to the rehab facility. The medication caused an irreparable brain injury that resulted in cardiopulmonary arrest. Sharon Juno never regained consciousness and died on March 27, 2008.
Juno’s doctor reviewed his patient’s medical chart and certified on a form the medication and dosages that she should take. He then dictated that same information into a phone line. In the past, a medical transcriptionist at the hospital would have written the information from the dictation onto a discharge summary. But the average pay for medical transcriptionists in the United States is $19.50 an hour, and U.S. company promised to perform the work cheaper. That company subcontracted its work to a pair of Indian companies, Medusind Solutions in Mumbai, and Sam Tech Datasys in New Delhi. Testimony indicated that the highest-paid Indian workers make $350 per month. Juno’s attorney said the hospital saved 2 cents per line of text by using the outside firm. But he said it came at a price: Testimony indicated that the Indian firms operate under quality standards that are one half to one twelfth that of the United States in terms of acceptable error rate. A jury agreed and awarded $140 million verdict to the family.
The hospital issued the following statement: œThomas Hospital expresses our condolences for the family involved in this matter. Furthermore, we are disappointed with the jury’s decision and do not believe the verdict reflects the care and compassion provided to the patients of Thomas Hospital by its providers and staff. Thomas Hospital has served the people of Baldwin County for more than 50 years and is recognized as one of the top 100 hospitals by Thomson Reuters. We believe that the amount of the verdict is excessive and intend to exercise rights of appeal.
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