Medical Malpractice Case Report: $4.6 Million Verdict for Hospital's Negligent Failure to Maintain Adequate Blood Stock

Firm Partner Kathleen Flynn Peterson and Brandon Thompson reached a $4.6 million medical malpractice verdict in a case involving a negligent failure to maintain adequate blood stock, procure emergency blood in a timely manner, and have blood available to treat an obstetrical emergency. Read the following Minnesota Association for Justice (MAJ) Minnesota Case Report, Volume 29, Number 2, October 2010:

Selected Results*  

(Excerpts taken with permission from Minnesota Association for Justice (MAJ) “Minnesota Case Reports”)

This medical malpractice case involved the death of thirty-six year old woman following the delivery of her first child at the Monticello-Big Lake Hospital (now known as New River Medical Center). Claudia Calcagno developed a postpartum hemorrhage shortly after delivery and ultimately bled to death.  The hospital failed to maintain an adequate stock of blood, failed to follow its own policy with respect to procuring emergency blood, and failed to provide blood in a timely manner. Management of Ms Calcagno's condition would have included surgical intervention such as a hysterectomy, but her physicians were unable to properly manage her condition without blood.  This inability to manage the bleeding resulted in her eventual death.

During the course of the litigation, investigation revealed that the hospital actually had blood sitting in the refrigerator that could have been used to save Claudia Calcagno's life. It was  also discovered that a janitor had been sent to procure additional blood, despite the hospital's policy requiring emergency blood to be delivered by law enforcement.  Plaintiff eventually reach a confidential settlement agreement with the doctors, but the hospital was unwilling to engage in meaningful negotiations.

The hospital aggressively argued that Ms. Calcagno's doctors were negligent, arguing to the jury that the doctors had an obligation to stop Ms. Calcagno's bleeding by performing surgery, and instead they simply "froze." The hospital argued that had surgical interventions, including a B-lynch suture and hysterectomy been performed, Claudia Calcagno would be alive today. The hospital maintained that the doctors did not need blood to undertake those interventions. The hospital also retained a pathologist who concluded that Ms. Calcagno had died not from blood loss, but rather from peripartum cardiomyopathy.  Plaintiff faced the task of simultaneously defending the doctors, debunking the hospital's cause of death opinion, proving the hospital's violation of the standard of care, and establishing damages.

Plaintiff retained nationally-renowned experts in blood management, perinatology and cardiovascular pathology to support the case against the hospital.  The jury found that the settling physicians bore none of the fault for Claudia Calcagno's death, and concluded that the hospital's negligence was 100% responsible for bringing about this tragedy. The jury awarded $220,108 in past economic loss, $750,000 in past non-economic loss, $1,403,816 in future economic loss, and $2,250,000 in future non-economic loss.

Verdict: $4.6 million