A jury has delivered a $25.6 million verdict against Rhode Island Hospital in the largest negligence verdict ever in the state.
The Providence hospital, the largest in the state, acknowledged that seven doctors and two nurses were negligent in caring for an Exeter man who went there in August 2009 after hitting his head and who left with permanent, debilitating injuries.
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The hospital conceded before trial that its staff misdiagnosed Carl Beauchamp, failed to check on him and do required exams, failed to communicate with other staff about his condition and missed signs that his condition was worsening during a span of less than 48 hours.
As a result, Beauchamp's brain swelled unchecked, causing him irreversible brain damage, according to court papers. He needs permanent care and has difficulty with his cognition, as well as with his movement, speech and vision. His day-to-day life is difficult, and he has trouble with the basics of everyday life, including feeding himself. He is largely confined to a wheelchair.
Jurors in Providence Superior Court were asked only to decide on an award because the hospital conceded it was negligent. On April 29, they awarded Beauchamp $15 million for pain and suffering and $5.6 million for medical expenses. His wife, Elizabeth, was awarded $5 million.
Superior Court Judge Patricia Hurst also ordered interest of $5.9 million, bringing the total award to $31.5 million.
The hospital's parent company, Lifespan, said it does not plan to appeal.
"Words cannot express our sorrow and regret to the patient and his family. We thank the jury for their attentiveness and service in deciding this difficult matter," it wrote in a statement.
Lifespan did not immediately respond to questions about whether the hospital has made any changes in its procedures since this case happened or is doing anything differently to make sure something similar does not happen again.
Mark Mandell, who represented the Beauchamps, said the jury returned its verdict after less than two hours following a six-day trial. He said his clients were seeking closure and "complete justice" from the lawsuit.
"What was striking about what happened is that so many people were negligent, and that negligence occurred over a 40-hour period of time. That's hard to accept," Mandell said. "To me this number represents justice."