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County settles 2 malpractice suits

A total of $3.3 million will go to a woman who went blind and a man who had a stroke after mistakes at hospitals.

January 31, 2007|Susannah Rosenblatt | Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles County supervisors voted Tuesday to pay $3.3 million to settle two lawsuits against county hospitals -- one brought by a 19-year-old woman who was blinded by an overlooked brain tumor and another by a man who suffered serious neurological damage after his face was impaled at a construction site.

The board gave the county health department a month to submit plans to prevent similar errors in the future.

Supervisors approved $1.8 million for Nicole Davis, who visited Hubert H. Humphrey Comprehensive Health Center in Los Angeles four times in 2004 because of headaches and blurred vision. Physicians diagnosed sinusitis and prescribed antibiotics.

Davis visited an ophthalmologist and underwent a CT scan nearly a year later, revealing a brain tumor that had damaged her optic nerve. The tumor made Davis legally blind.

A county counsel's report cited medical personnel's failure to assess Davis' condition, which "fell below the standard of care and is responsible for" her vision loss.

The board also approved $1.5 million for William Schlock and his wife, Tina.

A steel rod pierced Schlock's right cheek as he was working at a construction site in June 2004. A CT scan performed at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center after the accident showed air and bone fragments around a major artery. But a subsequently ordered angiogram -- an analysis of the neck's arteries -- was never performed.

Two days later, Schlock, then 46, suffered a stroke that caused major brain damage. The neurological injuries limit Schlock to walking only short distances with a cane, and severely inhibit his speech and cognition.

The delay in performing the angiogram "fell below the standard of care and is responsible for the injuries" that Schlock sustained, according to the county counsel's report.

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susannah.rosenblatt@latimes.com

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