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Plaintiff Awarded $8.6 in Medical Malpractice Suit

Jean Philips, a 36-year old single mother of two from Georgia, was awarded $8.6 million in damages by a federal judge over claims of medical malpractice.  The lawsuit filed by Philips claimed she suffered permanent injuries due to a doctor’s failure to diagnose a necrotizing fasciitis infection in her right arm. 

Doctor Failed to Diagnose Dangerous Infection 

Philips had gone to see Dr. Daniel MacAlpine on Scott Air Force Base for a right arm that was red, swollen and experiencing sharp pain.  Dr. MacAlpine dismissed the likelihood of any serious problem and advised her to simply take some Motrin. 

Approximately four days later Phillips began to have difficulty breathing and started going into shock.  She was quickly taken to the Scott Air Force Base Emergency room where a doctor diagnosed her with necrotizing fasciitis in her right arm. 

What is Necrotizing Fasciitis? 

Necrotizing fasciitis is a rare infection caused by a flesh eating bacteria that affects the deeper layers of the skin.  If the infection goes untreated, it can progress rapidly and is fatal in nearly 75 percent of the cases. 

There are four principal symptom categories associated with necrotizing fasciitis. These are:

  • Fever with shock and light-headedness
  • Fever with a sunburn rash
  • Fever with a cough and difficulty breathing
  • Fever with cellulitis that can progress to necrotizing fasciitis or myositis

Doctor’s Malpractice Leads to Permanent Injuries

Philips claimed she had lost all use of her right arm as result of the necrotizing fasciitis and the doctor’s failure to diagnose it at the time of her initial visit.

Judge Philip Frazier, who oversaw the case, said of Philips’s injuries, "Granted, there are more dramatic injuries out there involving multiple amputations and the like, but plaintiff's situation is about as bad as it gets when one considers the impact on her work and personal life." 

The judge added, “She has a right arm which is withered, disfigured, useless, and causes her continuous and extreme pain; she is unable to maintain regular employment…She faces the future with no reason to be optimistic that things will improve."

Settlement details 

Judge Frazier awarded the plaintiff: 

  • $2.5 million for future pain and suffering
  • $1.5 million for past pain and suffering
  • $2.5 million for disability in the future
  • $500,000 for past disability
  • $500,000 for disfigurement
  • $495,169 for past and future lost earnings
  • $215,040 for future medical
  • $421,581 for past medical. 

(Source: Madison St. Clair Record)

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