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In October 2007, one Valerija Milosevic was a patient at Henry Ford Macomb Hospital in Clinton, MI. She was 78, was recovering from a heart attack, and was on oxygen. She fell out of bed, sustaining facial fractures and a severe cut over one eye.

Hospital personnel treated the cut with a procedure called thermal cautery. This is the use of heat to stop bleeding – the heat seals the tissue closed (cauterizes it). It is an ancient practice, dating back to about 3,000 BC. In those days, some kind of tool was heated in a fire and applied to the wound.

These days, medical professionals use a cautery unit: a device with a tip heated by electricity. It does not apply an electric current to the patient – just warmth enough to:
•Vaporize cells
•Evaporate water from the tissue
•Shrink the tissue
•Contract blood vessels
•Coagulate blood

Milosevic’s cautery device was left next to her oxygen unit and later it exploded, giving her serious burns on the face and shoulders and causing permanent scars.

Confusion Over the Lawsuit

Her family filed a lawsuit, intending it to be a negligence suit, or at least under the impression that it was. However, the judge treated it as a medical malpractice suit. That meant that potential damages paid to Milosevic would be capped.

This week the jury awarded $1.2 million to Milosevic and her family are saying that they will appeal and will not accept this money.
•”If the judge would have said from day one this was (an ordinary negligence case), there wouldn’t have been a cap,” said Michael Torres, Milosevic’s son-in-law.

In other words, the award could have been much higher had the case been litigated as ordinary negligence. Not surprisingly, Henry Ford Macomb Hospital representatives have said that they respect the verdict.

If you have been hurt by a medical mistake and would like to know if you have a valid medical malpractice claim, our medical malpractice lawyers can help. Please call or email us at our Mobile, Alabama law office for a free case evaluation. You may be entitled to full and fair compensation for medical costs, lost income, and pain and suffering.

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