Brain-Damaged Woman Gets $5,000,000 For Docs' Snafu

Date:13-10-1995
Publication:New York Post
Author:Allen Salkin
Case
Attorney(s):Judith A. Livingston
Practice Area(s):Medical Malpractice
Summary:A Brooklyn jury awarded $5 million to a woman left brain-damaged by "bungling doctors," stated the New York Post article, who "sapped her personality." Judith Livingston represented Justine Dong, who complained of headaches and "emerged from the city medical system six months later with three holes in her brain that left her walking slowly and speaking in a monotone," said Ms. Livingston. Ms. Dong's aunt said, "The Justine that we knew before disappeared forever and a new Justine was born that day."

Ms. Dong was first diagnosed with a sinus infection, and went to a sinus specialist to treat her headaches. Several days later she was still having headaches and now had trouble speaking. She was given more sinus medication and sent home. Still in pain, because she had a brain infection that had not been detected, Ms. Dong went to a hospital where "two tragic mistakes occurred," Ms. Livingston said. Hospital workers performed a spinal tap, which "should never be done on a person with a brain infection," Ms. Livingston said. It "is like when you have a bathtub full of water and you pull the plug and all the pressure goes down.... The brain gets squooshed."

Ms. Dong then went into a coma. Inexperienced residents misinterpreted a brain scan and administered another spinal tap. Ms. Dong ended up with speech and memory problems, and trouble walking. She needed 18 months of rehabilitation.
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