Long Island, New York (NewYorkInjuryNews.com) — On February 28, 2008, after four days of trial, David Dean, Esq. of Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo, P.C. secured $4,700,000 in a malpractice case against a hospital.
On July 21, 2004, the 50-year old client was operated on in the defendant hospital to remove her goiter (an enlarged thyroid gland in her neck). All doctors agreed that in operations of this type the usual immediate post-operative result is a lessening of the amount of body calcium. If the calcium becomes too low, it could potentially cause difficulty in a patient’s swallowing and breathing.
Although the operating surgeon ordered calcium, no calcium was ever given to the patient from the time the surgery ended until she stopped breathing. We showed that after the operation was concluded at 4:00 pm and throughout that evening until the next morning, the patient was nervous, agitated and had difficulty in swallowing. Ultimately, shortly after 6:00 am the next day, she complained of shortness of breath and increased swelling in the area of her neck. She continued to struggle for breath and went into respiratory failure, sustained brain anoxic encephalopathy (brain damage caused by lack of oxygen) and is now in a coma.
One of the problems that the law firm faced was the client’s inability to tell the jury what happened to her. For this reason, the attorneys had to rely upon their experts’ analysis of the hospital records and our examination of hospital employees. The trial lawyer, David Dean, presented evidence showing that a hospital second year resident, who had only been at the hospital for three weeks, was called to the patient’s bedside at 11:00 pm, but did not give the patient the appropriate tests and instead told the nurse that she was fine.
Dean’s investigation team uncovered an impartial eyewitness who had been visiting a patient in the bed next to the client. The eyewitness testified that she observed the client, from 5:00 am onward, having great difficulty in breathing. When on three occasions the nurses were summoned to the patient’s bedside, the eyewitness testified that she was not treated, but was, instead, reassured and told that she should not be concerned. When our trial lawyer cross-examined one of the nurses, the nurse was forced to admit that, although she again went into the room shortly before 6:00 am and admitted that the patient continued to struggle for breath, she did not call an emergency code until 16 minutes later. We also developed that the hospital’s resident, although he testified that he was at the patient’s bedside administering aid a few minutes after 6:00 am, did not in reality arrive until after 6:16 am and after she went into cardiac arrest.
Although the medical implications in this case were complicated, the lawyers believe that they were successful in demonstrating that the hospital employees failed to promptly come to the aid of the patient. The defendant hospital agreed that they persuaded the jury, and resolved the case.
Faced with that evidence, the hospital agreed to our settlement demand of $4,700,000.
This information brought to you by Robert Sullivan, New York Medical Malpractice Attorney, Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo P.C.