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Study Finds State of New Mexico May be Liable for $120 Million in Albuquerque Medical Malpractice Case

Posted in Firm News

The State of New Mexico may be on the hook for up to $120 million in connection with a potential class action lawsuit against the University of New Mexico Hospital and a former child cancer specialist, Dr. Marilyn Duncan. The 101 medical malpractice lawsuits reportedly arose in 1998 after university hospital officials disclosed that many pediatric oncology patients were likely not provided with the newest or most effective treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia during a seven-year period. Plaintiffs also allege the hospital dissuaded them from obtaining a second opinion regarding their child’s medical care.

The University of New Mexico Hospital is a self-insured institution which means that taxpayers throughout the state foot the bill for any potential medical malpractice liability. Although New Mexico has paid about $45 million in settlements to 118 families since the disclosure, a new actuarial study allegedly found that the potential class action lawsuit was likely to have an unfavorable outcome for the hospital. A previous study estimated the state’s remaining potential liability at less than $20 million. Still, State General Services Department Secretary Ed Burckle claims no additional funds are expected to be requested from the New Mexico Legislature in the next term.

In New Mexico, tort claims such as medical negligence are subject to a damages cap. Burckle stated the new projected liability for the potential class action lawsuit was based upon a maximum possible award per outstanding claim. Although the medical malpractice lawsuits were filed in 2001, a class certification hearing is scheduled to be held in 2013 in Albuquerque. Thus far, not one of the malpractice lawsuits filed has made it to trial. Still, Dr. Duncan retired from the hospital in 1998 and later surrendered her medical license in New Mexico.

Medical malpractice occurs when a health care professional fails to treat each patient pursuant to the prevailing standard of care and the patient is injured as a result. Medical negligence may arise from a medical provider’s failure to take a medically necessary or appropriate action in addition to his or her intentional or unintentional act. Malpractice may occur when a hospital, doctor, pharmacy, nurse, dentist, or other medical provider fails to offer appropriate treatment, improperly diagnoses a disease, or unreasonably delays medical treatment. If you were injured or a loved one was killed by the negligent act or omission of a health care provider in New Mexico, you may be entitled to receive monetary damages. Because the amount of time during which you have to file your medical negligence claim is limited, you are advised to contact a qualified personal injury attorney as soon as you are able.

If you or a loved one was hurt by a health care professional, call the Fine Law Firm at (505) 889-3463. Our hardworking Albuquerque medical malpractice lawyers have more than 100 years of combined experience assisting the victims of unexpected injuries. The knowledgeable attorneys at the Fine Law Firm are ready and willing to help you receive the compensation you deserve based upon the severity of your injuries. To schedule a free, confidential case evaluation with a dedicated personal injury lawyer today, please do not hesitate to contact the Fine Law Firm through our website.

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Additional Resources:

Study: More Cancer Suits May Cost New Mexico Millions, by The Associated Press, Insurance Journal