New York – In 2012 a woman delivered a baby in a hospital in Queens, NY. She subsequently suffered a pulmonary embolism and died the next day. The woman’s widowed husband claimed that this was a wrongful death due to the hospital’s failure to treat the problem quickly enough. Medical malpractice lawyers with Morrison & Wagner filed a malpractice lawsuit on the woman’s estate’s behalf. The hospital’s operator agreed to pay a settlement of $2,250,000 to the victims.
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Lawsuit: Doctors’ Inaction allowed embolism’s fatal progress (VerdictSearch by Priya Idiculla)
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Court: Queens Supreme, Queens County, New York
Injury Type(s): death; embolism; pulmonary / respiratory; respiratory arrest
Case Type: Medical Malpractice — Delayed Treatment — Wrongful Death — Survival Damages
Date: February 25, 2016
Eric H. Morrison; Morrison & Wagner; New York, NY
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Facts & Allegations:
On July 10, 2012, plaintiff’s decedent, a 31-year-old part-time nurse, underwent Caesarean delivery of a daughter. The delivery was performed in a hospital in Queens, New York.
During the hours that followed the delivery, the woman developed severe impairment of her respiration. She ultimately suffered an arrest, though she was quickly revived. Doctors suspected that she was suffering a pulmonary embolism, so she underwent intravenous administration of an anticoagulant: Lovenox.
Her condition worsened during the ensuing morning. A doctor ordered surgical thrombolysis, which would have involved mechanical destruction of the embolism, but the woman died before the procedure could be undertaken. The woman’s widower, Plaintiff, claimed that his wife’s death was a result of a failure to timely address her embolism.
The plaintiff and his sister, acting as co-administrators of the deceased woman’s estate, sued the hospital’s operator, New York City Health and Hospitals Corp., and several doctors who were believed to have been involved in the hospital’s treatment of the woman – an internist, hospitalist, 2 obstetricians, a pulmonologist and a cardiologist. The lawsuit alleged that the doctors failed to timely address the woman’s embolism, that the doctors’ failures constituted malpractice, and that New York City Health and Hospitals was vicariously liable for the doctors’ actions.
The estate’s counsel discontinued the claims against the doctors. The matter proceeded against New York City Health and Hospitals.
The estate’s counsel contended that the woman’s embolism could have been resolved via thrombolysis, but that the surgery was not ordered until the woman had experienced five hours of worsening symptoms. He also claimed that 165 additional minutes passed before the hospital completed the woman’s presurgical preparations. While the woman was being transported to the area in which the surgery would have been performed, she suffered a loss of consciousness. She did not regain consciousness.
The estate’s counsel also contended that the woman was not timely administered Lovenox. He contended that earlier administration may have altered the need for thrombolysis.
Defense counsel contended that the woman’s embolism was of an advanced stage that is rarely resolved via thrombolysis, and she also contended that thrombolysis is an extremely risky procedure. She contended that the hospital’s staff appropriately determined that Lovenox was the more efficacious means of addressing the embolism.
The woman suffered a fatal pulmonary embolism. During the hours that preceded her death, she suffered severe impairment of her respiration. She also suffered an arrest, though she was resuscitated.
The woman died on July 11, 2012. She was survived by her husband and two children.
The woman’s estate sought recovery of wrongful-death damages that included her lost earnings, damages for her pain and suffering, and damages for her children’s loss of parental guidance. The lost-earnings claim was not supported by admissible documentation.
The parties negotiated a pretrial settlement. New York City Health and Hospitals, which was self-insured, agreed to pay $2.25 Million.
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Editor’s Note: This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff’s counsel. Defense counsel did not respond to the reporter’s phone calls.