Annette Ramirez And Medical Malpractice Laws

Family & General Practice

13 Feb 2024 | 1 | by kjh

2569980login-checkAnnette Ramirez And Medical Malpractice Laws

On August 1st, 2012 Annette Ramirez went to the hospital in California for a hysterectomy and she expected to go home to her family the next day.  What happened instead is devastating.  Annette had abnormal vital signs, common for a leaky colon. She had severe abdominal pain. In fact, her colon had been severed and her bowel had been nicked during surgery. 

For more than 36 hours, her doctor failed to check on her. Her doctor ordered an enema which made things worse.  As a result, Annette got a severe infection that spread throughout her body.  She went into septic shock and her body was burning from the inside out.

Annette Ramirez had to have skin grafts for her burns and she was placed in a coma for four months. She developed gangrene, and her arms and her legs began to blacken. Then she had to have all four of her limbs amputated.  She was in the hospital, away from her husband and two young children, 6 and 12, for two years.  It is amazing that she survived at all. 

When Annette filed a complaint with the Medical Board of California they swiftly closed the complaint without any input from her.  They declared that the doctor was not negligent, indicating that the case had no merit.  Additionally, the family filed a civil lawsuit for medical malpractice.  After all, neither Annette nor her husband could work.  Annette’s husband needed to care for her full time as well as their children. Their quality of life drastically changed.

Annette and her husband discovered that California had a cap on non-economic damages at $250,000 that hadn’t been changed since 1975.  Imagine all of the trauma and tragic lifestyle changes the family has had to endure and will for a lifetime.  California’s cap is one of the lowest in the U.S.  Some states have no cap for non-economic damages.  (Check your state laws to learn more about medical malpractice).

Annette Ramirez decided to help change the laws in California.  She joined a coalition of families and injured patients and fought back.  On behalf of these patients who have diligently worked to change the law, we now have the following changes in California:

California Assembly Bill 35

Governor Newson signed into law California Assembly Bill 35 which took effect January 1, 2023.

While there is still no cap on how much patients can be awarded for damages directly related to medical bills and economic losses, under the updated law AB 35, beginning January 1, 2023, patients will be entitled to a higher payout for non-economic medical malpractice damages with a cap of $350,000, that will continue to increase over the next decade, eventually rising to $750,000.

  • In the event the patient’s claim involves wrongful death, the new cap on pain and suffering awards will increase to $500,000 on January 1, 2023, reaching $1 million over the next ten years.
  • Once the 10-year window has passed, the medical malpractice damages cap will be granted a 2% annual increase.
  • In cases involving multiple defendants, the victim or decedent would be eligible to receive up to three payments dependent on role and affiliation – doctor, hospital organization, or a third-party provider. The potential maximum payout would then be $1.5 million.

Medical Board of California complaints:

California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed legislation containing reforms long sought by patient advocates that will increase families’ voice in medical board investigations into harm caused by a doctor. SB 815 by Senator Richard Roth will: Require the Medical Board of California to interview a patient before their complaint of harm at the hands of a doctor is closed; create a complainant liaison unit to facilitate information sharing between injured patients and the board; and allow patients or their family to make an impact statement to the board before discipline is issued.

Californians owe a big thank you to Annette Ramirez as well as many other patients who fought hard to change laws for the residents of California.

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2 months ago

I can’t believe what that family had to endure. And the state just recently decided the laws were not up to date? How sad.

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