Medical Malpractice Verdict
On May 14, 2008, Tiffani D. Hurst gave birth to M.A.H. in Sunrise Hospital in Clark County, NV. M.A.H. was premature (born at 6 1/2 months gestation), and received medical care from neonatologist Martin Blahnick, M.D. and Ali Piroozi, M.D. until she was discharged from the hospital on Aug. 2, 2008. Although M.A.H. suffered from ongoing anemia during her hospital stay, Blahnick and Piroozi failed to investigate her condition further and diagnose her with a serious form of congenital anemia. Instead, they attributed her anemia to her prematurity and told her parents it was normal and would resolve on its own. Following discharge, M.A.H. fell under the care of pediatrician Ralph Conti, M.D. of Foothill Pediatrics LLC, who failed to perform a follow-up blood test recommended by Dr. Piroozi in the discharge summary. On Oct. 29, 2008, M.A.H. suffered an anemic shock episode, which resulted in a serious and permanent brain injury.
On May 14, 2010, Hurst and M.A.H.'s father Brian Abbington filed a medical malpractice action in the Nevada District Court for Clark County. The original complaint included claims against the following defendants: Piroozi, Blahnick, Conti, Foothill Pediatrics, and Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, LLC. In early 2013, Dr. Conti and Foothills Pediatrics was dismissed by stipulation. On Feb. 21, 2014, Sunrise was dismissed by stipulation and on Nov. 20, 2016, Dr. Blahnik was dismissed from the action by stipulation.
On Nov. 14, 2016, plaintiffs appeared for trial on the claims against Dr. Piroozi only. Judge Jerry A. Wiese presided. Plaintiffs maintained that Piroozi was negligent in failing to recognize that M.A.H. had a serious form of anemia and investigate it. They further alleged that he was negligent in the manner and method of his discharge of M.A.H. from the hospital. Specifically, they argued that he was negligent by failing to have an appropriate plan of care in light of her ongoing anemia, by withholding critical information from the plaintiffs and the pediatrician (including test results demonstrating that M.A.H. was not making any red blood cells and her red blood cell count was dropping at the time of her discharge) and by including false and misleading information in the discharge summary (incorrect number of transfusions—5 instead of 11, incorrect diagnosis, statement that Anemia had resolved, and nothing regarding any concern for ongoing anemia or explanation for why follow-up CBC was being recommended). Dr. Piroozi countered, arguing that he had met the standard of care and did not cause damage to M.A.H. He argued that M.A.H. had been under the care of seven other physicians at the hospital and that upon her discharge, he had ordered, among other things, a follow-up CBC, Dif and Retic test within one month. Moreover, he had sent the child for a pediatrician follow-up, and her anemic shock episode occurred nearly three months after she left his medical care.
On Dec. 2, 2016, the jury reached a verdict in plaintiffs' favor, finding that Dr. Piroozi and Dr. Conti had been negligent and that their negligence caused M.A.H. to suffer injury. The jury found Dr. Blahnik had not been negligent. The award totaled $ 14,518,607.00, and liability was apportioned 40% to Dr. Piroozi and 60% to Dr. Conti.
Plaintiffs were represented by Jacquelynn D. Carmichael and David A. Cutt of Eisenberg, Cutt, Kendell & Olson in Salt Lake City, Utah. Defendant was represented by ohn H. Cotton and Katherine Turpen of John H. Cotton & Associates in Las Vegas, Nevada.