Last year, The Missouri Supreme Court struck down a legislative cap set on the amount awardable for “pain and suffering” in medical malpractice suits, ruling that the cap violated a patient’s right to a jury trial, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The cap was originally set at $350,000 and was established in 2005. Recently, in one of the largest verdicts ever awarded in the state, Jeffrey Schneider and his wife were awarded approximately $6.4 million in a medical malpractice suit after an infection allegedly resulted in a stroke in 2007.
The couple, who reside in Maryland Heights, alleged that Dr. Joseph Thompson of SSM DePaul Medical Group was negligent in the treatment of Schneider when he developed an infection that could have been diagnosed and treated by Thompson had he ordered tests and exams from a cardiologist. Schneider was diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse in 1996, and was again shown to have the condition after an echocardiogram was ordered by Thompson in 2001. Mitral valve prolapse occurs “when a valve of the heart does not close tightly, [and it] can cause blood to flow backward into the heart,” according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
According to the couple, no other echocardiograms were ordered after 2001, and there was no more mention of Schneider’s condition after March 2002. The couple further alleged that Thompson never referred Schneider to a cardiologist, even after he became ill in April 2007 and complained to the doctor of fatigue, loss of appetite and stomach pain. Instead, Schneider was referred to other doctors for different tests that didn’t examine his heart.
Schneider’s wife called Thompson to ask him if he could admit Schneider into a hospital in May 2007, but Thompson told her to wait for his hematology reports, according to the Plaintiffs. In June 2007, Schneider had an acute stroke resulting from a bacterial infection on his heart valve. Today, he has limited use of the right side of his body, has trouble processing words and has short-term memory damage. The lawsuit says he hasn’t been able to work since the incident, according to the Courthouse News Service.