In 2003 a twenty-seven year old man, Mr. Bennett, arrived at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. He entered the emergency department complaining of generalized weakness, vomiting and a bump on the head. Later that day, he was moved from the emergency department and admitted to the hospital. Despite his progressively septic (infected) state, the treating physician failed to follow safety rules that would have resulted in the recognition of the mans’ distress. Twelve hours later, the man was finally treated, for the first time, for sepsis. Less than twenty-four hours after he arrived at the Good Samaritan Hospital, the man was pronounced dead from severe septic shock.
Following his death, Mr. Bennett’s family filed a medical malpractice survival action and wrongful death case against the Good Samaritan Hospital in the Circuit Court of Baltimore City. The family alleged that as a result of medical negligence and medical malpractice, the doctors at the Good Samaritan Hospital failed to timely diagnose and treat the infection from which Mr. Bennett’s ultimately died. The initial award, in favor of the surviving family members, was close to $600,000 even after a reduction pursuant to statutory cap. The doctor appealed in an effort to further lower the jury verdict but both the Court of Special Appeals and the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s determination. A copy the judicial opinion regarding the case can be found here.
The falure to timely treat septic shock can have catastrophic consequences. There are specific protocols for treating septic shock that must be closely followed to ensure that people are timely treated. Septic shock requires immediate antibiotics, as hours matter in prevcenting death.