Two months after his cancerous testical was removed, 20-year-old Shawn Rial underwent a week of inpatient chemotherapy. His family was told testicular cancer was one of the most treatable forms of cancer and he had a 90 percent chance of survival as he was only in stage 2. Shawn returned to the hospital a few days later for outpatient chemotherapy, but doctors failed to do a simple blood test that would have shown the earlier chemotherapy had destroyed his white blood cells. That visit came at a point in his treatment when it is well known the white blood cell count should be checked. Had the blood test been done, Shawn could have received the treatment he needed to survive.
Instead, Shawn died eight days later from an infection his body had no white blood cells to fight.
After hearing evidence from both sides, a jury voted unanimously to award Shawn’s parents nearly $2 million for the loss of their only child due to the medical center’s negligence. But under MICRA’s cookie-cutter approach that does not take the severity of the harm and negligence into account, Shawn’s life was valued at just $250,000.