L.A. supervisors OK $1.5-million medical malpractice settlement

L.A. County settles medical malpractice lawsuit for $1.5 million.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle a medical malpractice lawsuit stemming from a 2011 surgery at County-USC Medical Center.

In addition, the county will assume responsibility for an estimated $94,280 that plaintiff Dulce Castillo would have been required to reimburse Medi-Cal from her settlement award.

According to the complaint in the lawsuit, Castillo was injured during gallbladder surgery when her surgeon cut two iliac veins, causing the need for a more extensive procedure. 

The complaint alleged that she continued to suffer from ailments related to the surgery, including deep vein thrombosis and depression.

The supervisors' approval, made without comment during the "consent calendar" portion of their meeting, marks the second time in less than two months that the county has settled a seven-figure medical malpractice lawsuit against County-USC.

On March 31, supervisors agreed to pay $4.5 million to a man left paralyzed after treatment there.

Patient Justin Malone had been taken to the hospital after collapsing while playing basketball. A year earlier, he had been in an accident that ruptured his aorta. But by the time county physicians determined that there was a problem with that repair, it was too late to prevent his paralysis.

During the two days or so while medical workers tried to determine the problem, circulation was cut off to Malone's lower body. During the lawsuit, his attorneys said he will require help with every day activities for the rest of his life.

The county has since implemented a "corrective action plan," which included better communication among the hospital's various service providers.

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