An appellate court has sided with a Milwaukee woman who lost all four limbs due to medical malpractice and ruled statutory caps on non-economic damages unconstitutional.
Ascaris Mayo, a 57-year-old mother of four, had all of her limbs amputated in after doctors failed to properly diagnose a Strep A infection which later led to septic shock, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
In July 2014, a jury determined that Mayo’s healthcare providers were negligent in their diagnosis and care of the infection and were responsible for the resulting amputations. Mayo was awarded $25.3 million.
However, restrictions to the amount Wisconsin victims can collect for non-economic medical malpractice meant that Mayo could only receive $750,000 of the $16.5 million awarded to her and her husband for pain and suffering.
The 1st District Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that this should not be the case. The court noted that the cap is unconstitutional on its face and places an illogical burden on catastrophically injured patients, denying them equal protection under the law.
The case is expected to be appealed at the Supreme Court.
The 1st District Court of Appeals’ decision comes just days after a bill that would create similar limits at a federal level passed the Republican-controlled House.
If passed, the Protecting Access to Primary Care Act (PAPCA) would cap non-economic malpractice damages to only $250,000.
Additionally, the House bill would:
Supporters of the bill say PAPCA will reduce premiums and deter frivolous lawsuits; however, opponents view the bill as an infringement on injured plaintiffs’ rights and state prerogatives.
According to the BMJ, medical errors result in 251,454 deaths every year, making it the third leading cause of death in the United States behind heart disease and cancer. Even when not fatal, medical errors can result in a life-time of pain and disability.
It is important to note, not all medical errors will result in a medical malpractice claim. In fact, medical malpractice requires that plaintiffs prove:
Common forms of medical malpractice include: