Diane Stewart

In 2007, Diane Stewart received two knee replacements because of injuries she sustained in a car crash when she was younger. After the operation, she complained of severe abdominal pain, which nurses reported to her doctor. The doctor (who lived just 10 minutes from the hospital) never showed up. When Diane’s condition worsened, she was placed in intensive care. Her son, himself an M.D., spent the night by her side at the hospital. The next morning, she was pronounced dead. Her son was convinced that something had gone wrong with her care. An autopsy determined Diane died from a twisted intestine that could have been diagnosed and repaired. An investigation by the department of public health found that key documents had been intentionally removed from Diane’s medical record, including the Nurse’s notes involving the attempt to get a doctor check in on Diane’s abdominal pain. Because Diane was 72 years old and no longer in the workforce, the 1975 cap on compensation for medical negligence placed a value of no more than $250,000 on her life. That is an amount that hasn’t changed in 45 years.