A jury has determined that Harborview and two doctors were negligent in the case of a woman who was treated at the Seattle hospital's stroke center in 2013.
A jury in King County has issued a $25 million judgment for a woman who went to Harborview Medical Center’s Stroke Center for treatment but suffered a paralyzing turn for the worse during her stay.
Doctors in Montana had sent Jerri Woodring-Thueson to Seattle in October 2013 to get care at the stroke center, which UW Medicine touts as the region’s first comprehensive stroke center. Attorneys for Woodring-Thueson, now 54, say her symptoms worsened during the stay and that she was largely treated by inexperienced interns and residents.
Her condition worsened even more on a Saturday, but her attending physician didn’t come in to examine her and she was instead seen by a resident, said her lawyers from the firm Connelly Law Offices. She eventually suffered an occlusion of her basilar artery, but her attorneys said it still took hours for the team to get a doctor to stent the artery.
Woodring-Thueson’s husband, Erik Thueson, said his wife is now completely disabled, paralyzed on her right side, and with limited use of her left side. He said she can talk a little but needs full-time care.
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UW Medicine would not immediately say if it planned to appeal.
“We believe the care we provided following her complex stroke was appropriate and are determining next steps,” UW Medicine spokeswoman Susan Gregg said in a statement, adding that having a loved one suffer a major stroke is stressful for both patients and families.
Thueson said they have felt a mix of grief, outrage and betrayal since the Harborview stay, during which they felt that doctors had been dismissive about their concerns. He said they are still absorbing the verdict but said the jury’s decision provides some justice and accountability that does make them feel better.
“It will never bring my wife back, so that’s always going to be a sorrow for the both of us and obviously for her,” Thueson said. “She’s just happy that people thought that much of her — that her life was worth it. And it is.”
Thueson said his wife, before her disability, worked as a judicial assistant for the chief justice at the Montana Supreme Court.
The jury, in the decision issued Thursday in King County Superior Court in Seattle, found that Harborview was negligent, as were two doctors, Maxwell Ma and David Tirschwell. Tirschwell was the attending neurologist and is the medical director of the stroke center. Two other doctors named in the suit were not negligent in the case, the jury found.
The jury awarded $1.4 million for past medical expenses and $8.9 million for other economic damages. Jurors awarded $10 million in noneconomic damages to Woodring-Thueson and $5 million to her husband.
Harborview is owned by King County and operated by UW Medicine. The county wasn’t named in the lawsuit.