This month, a Carroll County jury awarded $570,000 to the estate and surviving family members of a woman whose internal bleeding went undiagnosed, resulting in her untimely death.
The woman presented to the emergency room with a chief complaint of swelling in her left leg and was diagnosed with acute deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, was admitted and given blood thinners. She remained in the hospital for five days before being discharged with prescriptions for two blood thinners. One of the medications required regular monitoring with a test known as INR to ensure the correct dosage. A low INR is an indicator for increasing the dosage and vice versa.
Days after her release from the hospital, her INR score was below the recommended low range and so her physicians recommended increasing the dosage. Thereafter, she woke up with severe pain in her hip and pelvis which the patient’s lawyers argued were tell-tale signs of a hematoma. She returned to the emergency room by ambulance where she was given painkillers and evaluated by a physician’s assistant. At that point, she was unable to walk and complained of spasms in her thigh. No testing or scans were ordered despite the fact that her pain was not responding to narcotic pain medication. Instead, she was transferred to a nursing home facility.
The next day, she was found to be having difficulty breathing in bed. She was taken back to the emergency room by ambulance where it was determined that she was in hemorrhagic shock, a life-threatening condition that occurs when you lose more than 20 percent of your body’s blood or fluid supply. Her INR test at that time was found to be a “dangerously high” 9.9 and imaging revealed a large hematoma. She was administered eleven units of packed red blood cells, stabilizing her condition. The patient was discharge days later, again to a nursing home. The next day, she was found unresponsive and died in an ambulance on the way back to the hospital.
The jury’s verdict was comprised of $38,000 for medical expenses, $8,900 for funeral costs, $127,000 in loss of household services, $125,000 to the patient’s estate for her conscious pain and suffering she experienced prior to her death, $125,000 to her husband and $30,000 to each of her five children.
If you or a loved one may have been the victim of a medical mistake, call us at 410-385-2225.