• The Gist: Could breaches in duty be any more obvious? The attorney or records reviewer may not always have to look far to find egregious slips in standards of care.
© 2008 The Medical-Legal News
The June 2008 issue of the Legal Eagle Eye Newsletter(www.nursinglaw.com) had several med mal cases of note:
In a case that settled for almost $4 million, a hypoglycemic newborn was put on a peripheral line instead of a central line to deliver dextrose. The infant retained fluids and suffered injuries. The nurse was faulted for not noticing the infant’s deteriorating condition over the two-day period that the infant was on the line.
In a Florida case, nurses abruptly took a diabetic patient off of her IV insulin drip without weaning her off gradually. The patient herself knew her insulin was dropping at 7 p.m. after eating her dinner. She alerted a nurse. The nurse told the patient to go back to bed and that she was not scheduled to have her blood tested until 9 p.m. The test was never taken and the patient died of cardiac arrest at 9:30. Award: $8.8 million.
A teenage boy in Georgia had his broken femur repaired by an orthopedist. The orthopedist apparently did not notice that the popliteal artery was damaged. At midnight the boy said his leg was numb. At 8 a.m. — the next day — the nurse noted the leg was cool to the touch, had no pulse and that the boy was in great pain. No report was made to the doctor. The leg later had to be amputated. Award: $24.5 million.
Death by dentures: In an Indiana case, a woman was intubated without her partial denture being removed. Damage resulted. After removal of the tube, the lodged denture caused bleeding and aspiration, leading to a second intubation (with the hidden denture still in the pharynx) which lead to a worsening condition and shock. Award: $938,000.
A Passy Muir Speaking Valve was ordered for a patient in Michigan. Without orders, a staff nurse totally unfamiliar with the device installed it and choked the patient to death. Award: $975,000.