The family of a 30-year-old woman who died after she suffered profound and irreversible brain damage because she was removed from a ventilator too soon following surgery, and attempts to re-intubate her were too late and unsuccessful, have agreed to settle their North Carolina medical malpractice claims against the defendant hospital and its physicians for $1.8 million.
The woman was originally hospitalized after suffering non-life-threatening injuries as a result of an ATV accident. She nonetheless had to have her spleen removed. The surgery was successful, after which she was placed on a ventilator.
Five days after surgery, the decision was made to remove the woman’s endotracheal tube, even though her respiratory condition had begun to deteriorate the day prior. The North Carolina medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that the hospital staff breached the standard of care by failing to perform two required tests before the decision was made to remove the woman from the ventilator. The surgeon and the residents the surgeon was supervising at the teaching hospital removed the woman’s endotracheal tube and then left her room. Three minutes later, the woman began experiencing breathing problems because her airway was closing off.
The hospital nurses called a resident, who was nearing the end of his 24-hour shift, to the woman’s bedside. The resident attempted to intubate the woman but was unsuccessful. The nurses then called the surgeon to return to the woman’s room. The surgeon instructed the resident to try again to intubate the woman, which was also unsuccessful (the surgeon allegedly failed to attempt to intubate the woman himself). The surgeon then performed surgery on the woman’s neck to establish an airway, but that surgery was unsuccessful.
The surgeon subsequently instructed the nurses to summon an anesthesiologist to the woman’s room. The anesthesiologist arrived within two minutes, and was able to intubate the woman within one minute. Unfortunately, by the time the woman was re-intubated, nearly thirty minutes had elapsed since her airway closed off and the lack of oxygen to her brain for that extended period of time resulted in the woman suffering a profound and irreversible brain injury from which she could not recover.
The woman’s husband, in consultation with her other family members, made the difficult decision several days later to remove the woman from life-support, after which she died.
Shortly before her ATV accident, the woman had left her job so that she and her husband, who were high school sweathearts, could focus on fertility treatments in their hope of starting a family.
The North Carolina medical malpractice lawsuit was settled shortly after the defendants’ experts were deposed.
If you or a loved one suffered a serious injury (or worse) due to hospital negligence in North Carolina or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a hospital malpractice lawyer in North Carolina, or a hospital malpractice lawyer in your state, who may investigate your hospital malpractice claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a hospital medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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