Case #1084: Brain Bleed
On April 22, the Plaintiff’s Decedent presented to the Defendant Hospital emergency department with complaints of a new onset, intolerable, throbbing headache. The Plaintiff’s Decedent indicated that she had never previously experienced the severe head pain which lead her to the emergency department on that date. Additionally, she complained of new onset photophobia. She actually sat in the emergency department with a cloth over her eyes and requested that she be placed in darkness with all lights out. Finally, she indicated that she had begun to experience right leg numbness on a transient basis which, like all of her other signs and symptoms, was of new onset.
In response, it is alleged that these Defendants made a diagnosis of sinus congestion/headache — based upon no reliable tests and/or studies whatsoever. It is alleged that the Plaintiff’s Decedent presented with a neurological process — not sinusitis. The type of head pain from which the Plaintiff’s Decedent suffered as well as the photophobia and transient leg numbness had nothing to do with sinusitis and had everything to do with a neurological process ongoing in her brain.
It is alleged that the standards of care required these Defendants to obtain a neurological consult on a “stat” or emergency basis which would have yielded an immediate admission to the hospital followed by the requisite CAT scan and angiography. It is alleged that angiography, which represents the gold standard for such a presentation, was absolutely required under the standards of care. Had these Defendants acted in accordance with the standards of care and provided the Decedent with the CAT scan and angiography, a leaking blood vessel in the Decedent’s brain would have been diagnosed, and required neurosurgical intervention would have been provided on an immediate basis.
It is alleged that the Decedent was suffering with what is known as a “sentinel bleed” or “premonition bleed” which caused the signs and symptoms with which she presented. In essence, she presented with a classic picture of a “sentinel” or “premonition” bleed, which required immediate diagnosis and neurosurgical intervention.
Had these Defendants and each of them conformed with the applicable standards of care, the tests would have been completed, a neurosurgeon would have consulted and immediately operated upon the Plaintiff. It is alleged that the Plaintiff’s Decedent would have undergone the operation successfully and would have made an uneventful recovery with no neurological deficits whatsoever. In fact, had these Defendants conformed with the standards of care, the procedure would have been completed in a timely fashion, and the Plaintiff’s Decedent would have returned to her family and all of her normal activities.
However, as the direct and proximate result of the ongoing negligence of these Defendants, the Plaintiff’s Decedent stayed at the emergency department for approximately three hours while nothing of a definitive nature was done. Thereafter, she was summarily dismissed with a diagnosis of sinus congestion and a headache. She returned home as instructed, and two days later was found unresponsive. She was taken back to the Defendant Hospital and was finally provided with a CAT scan which was obviously too little — too late. The CAT scan revealed a massive bleed on the right side of the brain due to these Defendants’ failure to act in conformity with the standards of care.