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Case Caption: Estate of Prances Roe v. ABC Hospital and Internist Smith, D.O. Settlement:   $2,000,000

Judge:  Withheld

Settlement Date:   6/2003

Attorneys: Charles Kampinski, Cleveland Laurel A. Matthews, Cleveland

Plaintiff: Nadine Hauptman, Cleveland

Defendant: Withheld

Facts: The parties settled this wrongful death action brought on behalf of the estate of a 69 year old female hospital patient for the sum of $2.000.000.  

Plaintiff's decedent was taken to the emergency room at Defendant ABC Hospital for acute shortness of breath. The dece­dent suffered from chronic tracheal stenosis (a narrowing of her airway) and had undergone a tracheotomy approximately three years prior. The decedent was diagnosed with pneumonia and admitted to a regular nursing floor. Before leaving her for the evening the decedent's family gave instructions to the nursing staff not to give decedent anything stronger than Tylenol as dece­dent needed to be alert, or able to be awakened if sleeping, in order to care for her tracheotomy and suction secretions. Decedent was nevertheless given two Vicodin tablets at 6:45 p.m. At 10:00 p.m., although she was already sleeping, the decedent was awakened and administered Xanax. At 12:15 a.m. the decedent was noted by an LPN to be sitting up on the edge of her bed, agitated and in res­piratory distress. the LPN notified the supervising nurse but the supervising nurse did not evaluate the decedent. Instead, the supervising nurse paged Defendant Intern Smith and requested ar order for a sleeping pill. Defendant Smith gave the nurse a verbal order for the sleeping pill Ambien without examining the dece­dent. The administration of Ambien is reportedly contraindicatec in any person exhibiting signs of respiratory distress. The Ambler was administered to the decedent at 12:20 a.m. The decedent wit.,next observed by a nurse at 2:10 a.m., five minutes after Olt telemetry monitor documented that she was in new-onset atria fibrillation. At the time the decedent was unconscious. Despitt this the nurse did not summon a physician to the bedside or pro vide suctioning or airway assistance to the decedent. The decedent suffered a cardiorespiratory arrest five minutes later. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation was not initiated until five minutes following the arrest. The decedent survived the night but suffered irreversible brain injury. She died several weeks later.

Plaintiff alleged that the nursing staff of the hospital was neg. gent in failing to summon a physician when the decedent was fir observed to be in respiratory distress at 12:15 a.m. and in faith to summon a physician or provide adequate and immediate resu citative measures once the decedent was discovered to be in atri fibrillation and unconscious. Plaintiff further alleged th Defendant Smith was negligent in ordering a sleeping pill witho first examining the decedent.

Defendants contended that the applicable standard of care w. met at all times.

The case was settled after opening statements were delivered.

Plaintiff Profile: Plaintiff's decedent was a 69 year old rnarried female who was retired.

Alleged Injury: Wrongful death of plaintiff's decedent. Decedent was survived by her spouse and three adult children.

Insurance Carrier: Withheld

Expert(s): Plaintiff: Cecile S. Muehrcke, M.D. Internist - Cleveland, OH

Defendant:   John F. Burke, Jr., Ph.D. Economist - Cleveland, OH; Bruce Faber, M.D. Pulmonologist - Pittsburg, PA; Ronald J. Bacik, M.D. Pulmonologist - Cleveland, OH; Keith B. Armitage, M.D. Internist/Infectious Disease - Cleveland Heights, OH; Matthew P. Norcia, M.D. Anesthesiologist - Cleveland, OH; Christopher Ferris, M.D. Otolaryngologist - Pittsburgh, PA

Case Number: Withheld




Jun 1, 2003


Wrongful Death

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