Case #4039 Surgical Error Resulting in Death

Verdict/Settlement

$1,900,000

Summary

It is alleged that the Plaintiff’s Decedent, who was 30 years of age, had an abnormality known as primary sclerosing cholangitis — a condition which ultimately leads to cirrhosis of the liver and the need for a liver transplant.  As a result of the Plaintiff’s Decedent’s otherwise superb health, he rapidly moved to the top of the transplant list, receiving a new liver at the Defendant Hospital in April of 2000.  It is asserted that the transplant was successful, and that the Plaintiff’s Decedent was recuperating well post-surgery.  It is further asserted that because of his excellent health, that the Plaintiff’s Decedent was gainfully employed and actively working up to the day before the liver transplant took place.

It is alleged that post-surgery, the Defendant Hospital was negligent in such a fashion as to ultimately take the life of the Plaintiff’s Decedent.  Specifically, on May 28, the Plaintiff’s Decedent was complaining of difficulty in breathing.  Accordingly, a portable chest film was ordered to be brought to his bedside and completed.  He was not to be moved to the area of the hospital where radiology was housed.  Contrary to the order for the portable chest film, nursing personnel sent the Plaintiff’s Decedent to radiology where he suffered a cardiorespiratory arrest.  To compound this negligence, hospital personnel failed to institute an appropriate emergency resuscitation, thereby significantly delaying initiation of any effective resuscitative measures.  As a direct and proximate result of sending the Plaintiff’s Decedent down to the radiology department rather than performing the portable chest film, and as the direct result of the Defendant personnel’s failure to institute proper resuscitation, the Plaintiff’s Decedent suffered hypoxic injury and also sustained organ failure and/or shut down including, but not limited to, his kidneys.

As the direct and proximate result of this ongoing negligence, the Plaintiff’s Decedent required dialysis at the Defendant Hospital.  Incredibly, when hospital personnel passed an internal jugular catheter for the institution of dialysis, they negligently pierced the right ventricle and lodged the catheter in the heart.  Obviously, this is a gross violation of the standards of care.  Furthermore, these personnel negligently failed to recognize that they had placed the catheter directly into the heart and permitted it to remain.  Subsequently, they again compounded their negligence by utilizing the catheter thereby inflicting additional damage such that the Plaintiff’s Decedent’s heart ceased functioning.

Under these circumstances, with the catheter piercing the heart wall and actually entering the right ventricle, resuscitative measures proved ineffectual and the Plaintiff’s Decedent died on July 4.  Had these Defendants conformed with the applicable standards of care, the portable chest film would have been taken and the Plaintiff’s Decedent’s respiratory difficulties would have been abated; no resuscitation would have been initially necessary, and if necessary, immediate emergency resuscitation would have been effectively provided; no dialysis would have been required; and even if dialysis were required, no catheter would have been plunged into the Decedent’s heart thereby causing him to arrest and die.

The Plaintiff’s Decedent is survived by his wife and minor son.