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Philadelphia County

This action was brought by the female plaintiff, who was in her 40s at trial, against the defendant hospital, hematologist and pulmonologist claiming that the defendants negligently prescribed steroid medication for an extended period of time. As a result, the plaintiff claimed that she developed avascular necrosis of the right shoulder and both hips requiring a hip and shoulder replacement. The defendants maintained that the steroid medication was necessary to treat the life-threatening conditions from which the plaintiff suffered and that the dosage was not excessive and was carefully monitored.

The plaintiff was referred to the defendant hematologist who, after examining the plaintiff at the defendant hospital, diagnosed idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP). ITP was described as a disease wherein a filamentous protein responsible for clotting of blood is deposited on organs and capillaries resulting in thrombocytopenia, or a reduced platelet count. The defendant hematologist prescribed the steroid medication Prednisone. The plaintiff was also referred to the defendant pulmonologist, who diagnosed her as suffering from sarcoidosis, a disease of unknown etiology characterized by widespread granulomatous lesions which may affect any organ or tissue of the body. Evidence showed that the defendant pulmonologist recommended that the plaintiff remain on the steroid medication which had been prescribed by the co-defendant hematologist. After six months of Prednisone therapy, the plaintiff developed avascular necrosis of the right shoulder and both hips.

The plaintiff’s steroid expert testified that the plaintiff was maintained on too high a dosage of Prednisone for an extended period of time, resulting in the joint deterioration which is a known side effect of steroid medication. The plaintiff alleged that she was not adequately monitored or tested during the Prednisone therapy and that the Prednisone therapy was not warranted by her condition.

The plaintiff’s medical experts testified that she will require replacement of both hips and her right shoulder as a result of extensive joint deterioration and that the life expectancy of such replacements is generally ten years, making several more replacements probable in her lifetime.

The plaintiff was employed as a licensed nurse at the time she was treated by the defendants at a salary of approximately $________ per year. The plaintiff’s treating physician testified that the plaintiff’s current condition completely incapacitates her. Although the plaintiff returned to her employment as a nurse after two years, she claimed that she could not function at her prior level. The plaintiff’s nursing expert testified that the plaintiff will suffer a diminished future earning capacity as a nurse resulting from her physical limitations. The plaintiff also claimed approximately $________ in past loss of wages. The defendants contended that they were not negligent in prescribing the Prednisone for the plaintiff and that the therapy was necessitated by the life-threatening conditions from which she suffered. The defendants’ experts testified that the Prednisone dosage was not excessive. The defense contended that the plaintiff was carefully monitored during the therapy as evidenced by the records which showed her platelet count levels.

The jury found the defendant hematologist 50% negligent and the defendant pulmonologist 50% negligent. The plaintiff was awarded $4.1 million. Plaintiff’s requested delay damages totaling approximately $1.1 million. The case is currently on appeal.

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