A Montgomery County, Pennsylvania jury has awarded $5 million to the Estate and surviving family members of an 88 year-old man who died after medical professionals improperly placed a feeding to into his lung. The man had been transferred from his assisted living facility to a local hospital at which time a feeding tube was inserted. The man had pulled the feeding tube out and so doctors had to reinsert it the following day. After the feeding tube was reinserted, he was taken for a chest x-ray to confirm proper placement of the tube.
The radiologist on duty, a first-year resident, reviewed the x-ray and read it as normal. After that finding, the patient was fed through the feeding tube for more than twelve hours, filling his lungs with fluid, after which he began exhibiting signs of physical and respiratory distress. The patient’s family alleged that the healthcare providers failed to recognize that the physical distress was the result of the feeding tube having been improperly placed. The Defendants focused much of their case on trying to minimize the amount of damages that the jury should award. In doing so, the Defendants emphasized the man’s age, life expectancy and history of medical issues.
Settlement negotiations before trial had stalled when, in response to a $500,000 demand from the patient’s family, the Defendants made a collective offer of just $200,000. The jury’s verdict included $3.5 million to the patient’s estate for his 12 hours of pain and suffering and $1.5 million to his family members to their loss of a loved one.