Following a three-day trial, a Nashville jury unanimously ruled on Thursday, October 13 that Vanderbilt University Medical Center owes Patricia Greene Gayden, a former patient, $2 million dollars for losing one of her organs.
According to the lawsuit filed against the hospital, Greene Gayden underwent a thyroid biopsy in order to test for cancer in May of 2011. The results came back inconclusive, and the medical staff recommended further testing in order to determine whether or not she had cancer. Her thyroid gland was surgically removed the next month, but the gland was lost before the doctors were able to complete the necessary tests. Vanderbilt Hospital did not deny that the gland was lost in their response, but claimed that the organ was not lost due to negligence. According to court documents, the thyroid gland was signed into a pathology laboratory before the hospital lost track of it.
Because the doctors lost her thyroid gland, they were unable to either confirm or deny the presence of cancer, leaving Greene Gayden to deal with the uncertain possibility that she could have a potentially deadly disease. Her lawsuit stated that the hospital staff’s negligence and reckless actions caused her to suffer from major depressive disorder and emotional distress, leading her to seek damages from the hospital and university. Her lawsuit stated that:
“If a thyroid gland is cancerous, it can be a matter of life and death. Obviously, the patient can die of cancer. Therefore, the condition of the thyroid gland is critical to the health of the patient. Vanderbilt's laboratory personnel had been trained that every specimen is important and needs to be treated with utmost care. The plaintiff’s gland had been handled with little or no care at all."
Attorneys Randall Kinnard and Mary Ellen Morris of Kinnard, Clayton & Beveridge represented Greene Gayden in her case against Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Kinnard commented on the lawsuit to a reporter from The Tennessean, saying that:
"She never had an answer to the question of, 'Do I have cancer or not?' And that’s a worrisome thing to live with… I think the jury carefully considered every issue and did an excellent job with their responsibility.”
Greene Gayden has thankfully remained cancer-free since the hospital lost her thyroid gland. Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Chief Communications Officer John Howser released a statement after the verdict was announced stating that they were evaluating whether or not they were going to file for appeal.
Kinnard, Clayton & Beveridge is an established Nashville personal injury firm that has represented hundreds of clients throughout Tennessee and various other states for the past 35 plus years. Over that time, we have successfully recovered hundreds of millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements. If you have a question for one of our attorneys, give us a call at (615) 933-2893, and if you have a potential claim you can fill out our online form to give us the details of your case.