Medication Error at Hospital Results in Brain Injury -- $1.5 Million Settlement

Medication Error at Hospital Results in Brain Injury -- $1.5 Million Settlement

This case was cited by Missouri Lawyers Weekly as one of the largest medical malpractice settlements in the State of Missouri during calendar year 2016. The case settled as the result of the combined efforts of our medical team along with expert witnesses and lay witnesses that we identified through our investigation. In building the case, we gathered and summarized all of the applicable medical records, conducted extensive medical research and consulted with our team of medical professionals to ensure that we had command of the medicine at issue. We also conducted extensive investigation that included interviews to identify all individuals who could testify about the client’s pre-incident baseline health status and her post-incident decline.

After we filed suit, we took depositions of many of the defendant hospital employees; produced our expert reports; and produced for depositions our client’s friends who attested that the client did not have the cognitive ability to drive, cook meals or carry on a conversation. The defendant hospital settled the case for $1.5 million before any of our expert medical witnesses gave depositions, essentially abandoning the contention that the client had not sustained any permanent brain injury.

Our client, a seventy-one-year-old female, sustained an irreversible brain injury from a major internal bleed. While still in the hospital recovering from a total hip replacement, the client was given an excessive dose of heparin that triggered the bleed. The hospital’s nurses and physicians failed to respond to the client’s multiple signs of significant deterioration from the bleed during a seven hour period despite the client’s obvious and well-documented decline. The client continued to deteriorate to the point that she experienced a cardiopulmonary arrest. A Code Blue was then declared.

The Code Blue team consisting of physicians and nurses attempted resuscitation for 30 minutes but the team prematurely halted efforts to revive the client and determined that she had died. A nurse, noting the client suddenly gasping for air, caused a renewal of resuscitation efforts; however, three minutes passed between the halt of resuscitation and resumption. The client was transferred two days later to a university hospital where she remained for four-and-a-half weeks.

The defendant hospital contended that our client, who exhibited no readily perceptible indications of brain damage after she was released from treatment, had achieved a complete recovery. The hospital cited the record entries of two of the client’s treating physicians at the university hospital who had documented their opinions that the client had not sustained any permanent injury and that she had made a “100% recovery.” It also cited testing data generated by a treating speech therapist whose cognitive testing indicated that the client had made a full recovery after she was released from treatment and that she required no assistance in her home.

We countered with testing conducted by our retained neuropsychologist who evaluated the client at 6 months and again at 20 months post-incident. In both tests, the client’s scores placed her in the lowest two percentile on working memory. We also cited the deposition testimony of the client’s friends and acquaintances as noted above. In addition, we highlighted the many negligent acts of the hospital personnel which were clearly documented in the client’s medical chart. Finally, we cited the deposition testimony of the many defendants. This testimony further confirmed that the hospital’s negligent action and inaction had caused the client’s profound brain injury.

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