A jury recently returned a judgment on behalf of the family of a woman whose life was apparently cut short by alleged medical negligence in 2003-04.
After a three-day trial that ended July 22, the representatives of Delores J. Maesch's estate was awarded a financial judgment against Hoosier Enterprises III, Inc., which was doing business as Holly Hill Health Care at the time of the incident.
Special Judge David Bolk presided over the trial in Clay Circuit Court because of a conflict of interest by Clay Circuit Court Judge Joseph Trout. Trout was the original lawyer for the plaintiffs in the case.
According to documents on file at the Clay County Courthouse, testimony during the trial confirmed Maesch, after sustaining a back injury, was transferred from Union Hospital, Terre Haute, to the facility for physical therapy in December 2003.
However, detailed medication records were allegedly overlooked at the time of Maesch's admittance by nursing staff and she was not administered the proper amount of necessary medication.
Further testimony also showed that Maesch's physician, Dr. Paul Houston, was only provided a partial list of her medications when contacted about her deteriorating condition during her two-week stay. Houston, who did not treat Maesch while she was at Union Hospital, was apparently unaware of any changes in her medication.
As the family became more concerned and questioned administrative staff about Maesch's condition, the oversight was allegedly discovered and a meeting was held with the family to apologize.
Maesch was ultimately returned to Union Hospital for further medical treatment, but she never recovered enough from the adverse effect of the medical error to go home. She died the following August.
During the trial, the defense claimed no responsibility for the medication mix up, placing blame on a paperwork problem by the hospital, and that the family meeting did not occur. However, documents presented in court showing a disciplinary action was taken against the nurse who originally admitted Maesch proved otherwise for the jury.
The jury ruled for the plaintiff in the amount of $175,000.
Jurors in Indiana are allowed to use comparative negligence during these types of incidents. That means when more than one party could be at fault, a jury can decide what percentage of the fault a particular party is allegedly guilty of.
Three parties were up for consideration by the jury, including Hoosier Enterprises III, Inc., Dr. Houston and Union Hospital. The jury ruled that Hoosier Enterprises III bore 80 percent of the burden of fault ($140,000), Houston (because he did not personally check on Maesch's condition) bore 20 percent while the hospital had no fault in what happened.
Because Houston, who testified on behalf of the plaintiffs, was not listed as a defendant in the case, the jury made no further financial judgment.