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The woman, who used a wheelchair, fell while she was standing for an X-ray at a Roanoke clinic in May of 2010. She died six days later.
Thursday, July 25, 2013
A Roanoke doctor’s office has been ordered to pay more than $650,000 to the family of an 89-year-old woman who fell during an X-ray exam and died six days later.
Roanoke Orthopaedic Center was found liable for the death of Frances Robertson of Boones Mill during a trial last week in Roanoke Circuit Court.
According to testimony, Robertson was in a wheelchair, having injured her back in two recent falls, when she visited the clinic on March 10, 2010.
Although officials at the center had medical records indicating that Robertson was a fall risk, they instructed the woman to stand for X-rays taken of her spine.
Robertson’s legs gave way while she was standing unassisted, and she fell, striking her head on the floor, according to the lawsuit. She died six days later at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital.
The jury awarded about $10,000 for Robertson’s funeral expenses, about $50,000 for her medical bills and $200,000 each to three of her family members.
“This is a verdict that not only helps Frances’ children’s hearts heal, but it serves to improve medical care so that this unfortunate and preventable situation never again occurs to another family,” said Tony Russell , a Roanoke attorney who represented the family.
Since the incident, Roanoke Orthopaedic Center has merged with Carilion Clinic. Carilion was not a party to the verdict, which was based largely on the actions of a physician’s assistant and a technologist employed by Roanoke Orthopaedic.
An expert witness called by the plaintiffs told the jury that Robertson’s fall could have been prevented.
“If the defendants and their employees had abided by the recognized standard of care, Ms. Robertson would not have fallen and suffered her injuries and death,” a written summary of Dr. Randy Davis’ testimony stated.
Robertson was a 1943 graduate of the Jefferson School of Nursing and served as a public health nurse in Franklin County until her retirement in 1983, according to her obituary.
Before the case went to trial, the clinic’s insurer had offered $200,000 to settle the case. The lawsuit had sought $2 million.
“The parties engaged in a good-faith mediation prior to the trial, but were unable to come to an agreement on a reasonable settlement figure,” Paul Kuhnel , an attorney for Roanoke Orthopaedic, said in a prepared statement.
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