$1.975 Million in Appendicitis Death

W&L negotiated a $1.975 million medical-malpractice settlement on behalf of the estate of a 51-year-old New York woman who died in 2005 from a ruptured appendix.

Lynette Ryan complained to her husband of nausea and vomited one August evening. In the morning, she was still feeling ill and having abdominal pains, so she went to the Emergency Room at King’s County Hospital in Brooklyn, N.Y.  She was there for 12 hours; she was diagnosed with gastritis and sent home.

She was feeling well enough to go to work, but a few days later she went from her job to North Shore University Hospital in Plainview, N.Y., complaining of abdominal pain. The team at the hospital took two CTs. The first one was determined to be inconclusive; based on the second CT, doctors felt the condition was “strongly suggestive” of carcinomatosis, a type of metastasized cancer.

The doctors recommended she have a surgical consultation. The surgeon who examined the wife and mother of two in the hours before her death misdiagnosed her as suffering from ovarian cancer. She was given pain medication, but received no other treatment.

She died within a few hours. After an autopsy, it was determined that her appendix had ruptured, causing her death.

The misdiagnosis meant that the surgeon lost the opportunity to administer proper timely treatment.

The family believed that if she had undergone a procedure to remove her appendix early in the morning that day, her symptoms would have been reduced and she would have left the hospital alive.

They felt that doctors and hospital were negligent and that the treatment she did get deviated from the standard of care. They sued on the grounds of medical malpractice.

The case settled with both the surgeon and the hospital. The plaintiffs received a total award of $1,975,000.

Allan Zelikovic, the W&L attorney in charge of the case, said, “The impressive settlement amount paid to the woman’s estate demonstrates the importance of injured parties selecting as their legal counsel a law firm with the right blend of size, strength and compassionate caring.”

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