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Hospital to pay $3M for patient's postoperative bedsore in medical malpractice suit

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In June 2006, plaintiff Dominick Carelli, early 50s, underwent bariatric surgery. The procedure was performed at Westchester Medical Center, in Valhalla. Carelli experienced a postsurgical complication that prolonged his hospitalization. He was restrained and sedated during much of the treatment, and he experienced failure of his kidneys. He ultimately developed a bedsore that occupied his buttocks. The wound required extensive treatment, and Carelli claimed that surgery may be necessary. He contended that the wound was a result of the hospital's staff's failure to adequately monitor his condition.

Carelli sued the hospital's operator, Westchester County Health Care Corp. of New York. He alleged that the hospital's staff failed to render proper treatment. He further alleged that the staff's failure constituted malpractice.

Carelli's counsel claimed that the hospital's staff should have anticipated Carelli's susceptibility to the development of a bedsore, and he contended that a proper evaluation would have led to an effective plan of treatment. He also contended that the hospital's protocols specify that immobile patients must undergo regular repositioning. He claimed that such repositioning must be performed during each interval of two hours, but that Carelli experienced entire days in which he was not repositioned. Carelli's expert nurse opined that the hospital's records did not document proper repositioning of Carelli.
Defense counsel contended that Carelli's wound was not a bedsore. He claimed that the wound was caused by some five hours of compression that Carelli experienced during the surgery that he underwent. He also contended that Carelli was properly repositioned during his hospitalization.

Carelli sought recovery of his lost earnings, damages for his past pain and suffering, and damages for his future pain and suffering. His wife sought recovery of damages for her loss of consortium.
The parties negotiated a high/low stipulation: Damages could not exceed $3 million, but they had to equal or exceed $350,000.

The jury found that the hospital's staff departed from an accepted standard of medical care. It determined that Carelli's damages totaled $14.5 million, but Carelli's recovery was reduced to the stipulated limit: $3 million.

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