The family of a woman who was 33-years-old when she suffered cardiac arrest in the defendant hospital’s emergency room on February 25, 2015, and has been in a coma ever since, has agreed to settle the California medical malpractice lawsuit that was filed in October 2016, for $3.8 million.
The California medical malpractice plaintiffs alleged that the defendant hospital had a pattern of avoiding providing appropriate care to indigent patients, such as the woman, who was covered under California’s Medi-Cal program. The family’s complaint stated, ““Instead of admitting Cynthia and providing the necessary screening tests and care, defendants chose instead to simply overdose her on narcotic pain medications which would further suppress her respiratory system and discharge her from the hospital.”
The woman’s husband brought her to the emergency room at about 3:00 a.m. because his wife had been having difficulty breathing since the day before. The woman was a known diabetic and had kidney failure. Initial blood tests showed that her blood glucose level was dangerously high. A chest x-ray and other medical tests allegedly pointed to heart failure and a life-threatening condition, according to the California medical malpractice lawsuit. The emergency room medical staff administered Dilaudid, evidently for right hand pain, which was contraindicated because Dilaudid is a narcotic that is known to depress respiration.
The woman was discharged from the emergency room at about 7:00 a.m. She was in the waiting room when she suddenly collapsed. It was later determined that she was suffering from diabetic ketoacidosis, which was related to her diabetes and was life-threatening. Her family’s California medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that the defendant hospital violated EMTLA (the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act), which requires anyone who appears in an emergency department to be treated and medically stabilized regardless of insurance status or ability to pay, and that the defendant hospital violated its own policies.
The woman’s three children were ages 8, 11, and 15 at the time of the incident. The woman presently remains in a comatose state at a rehabilitation and specialty hospital.
The settlement was approved by a federal judge on March 29, 2019. The family’s California medical malpractice trial was scheduled to begin in November 2019. The defendant emergency room physician, a medical group, and an emergency room staffing company were ordered to contribute $500,000 to the settlement. Of the $3.8 million settlement amount, the woman’s husband and her three children will receive $1.46 million, $733,000 will be used to resolve medical liens and to provide for the woman’s medical care, and the family’s California medical malpractice lawyer will receive $1.6 million.
If you or a loved one may have been injured as a result of medical negligence in California, you should promptly find a California medical malpractice lawyer who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a California medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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