Earlier this month, a Maryland medical malpractice jury in what is considered to be a conservative jurisdiction for personal injury claims returned its verdict in favor of the estate of a woman who died due to the failure to timely diagnose her internal bleeding while she was on blood thinners.
The Maryland medical malpractice jury awarded $125,000 for the woman’s conscious pain and suffering, $38,000 for the woman’s medical expenses, $8,900 for her funeral expenses, $127,000 for the loss of household services, $125,000 to her husband for his loss of consortium claim, and $30,000 to each of her five children for their non-economic losses caused by their mother’s unexpected death.
The Alleged Underlying Facts
The woman was experiencing swelling in her left leg that led her to go to a hospital emergency room for diagnosis and treatment. The medical staff at the emergency room diagnosed the woman as having acute deep vein thrombosis along with pulmonary embolism. She was admitted to the hospital, where she was placed on blood thinners. At the time of her discharge from the hospital five days later, she was given prescriptions for two blood thinners that she promptly filled.
One of the prescribed blood thinners required regular monitoring to insure that her blood clotting remained within the therapeutic range. The blood test, called INR (International Normalized Ratio), measures how long it takes for blood to clot – the higher the INR, the longer it will take for blood to clot and the higher the risk of bleeding. Depending on the INR result, the blood thinner medication may be adjusted in order to remain within the optimal range.
The woman had her blood tested within days after her release from the hospital, at which time her INR was lower than the recommended range and her physician therefore increased the dosage of her blood thinner medication. Subsequently, the woman awoke with severe hip and pelvic pain that can be a sign of a hematoma, which is particularly worrisome in a patient on blood thinners whose INR may be too high.
An ambulance transferred the woman back to the hospital, where she was examined by a physician’s assistant and given narcotic pain medication that did not appear to help. In the emergency room, she was unable to walk and she complained that she had spasms in her thigh. Despite her symptoms and her recent medical history, no scans or other medical tests were ordered. She was transferred from the hospital to a nursing home.
The following day, the woman was in her bed in the nursing home when she was having trouble breathing. An ambulance was called and she was returned to the hospital, where she was diagnosed as being in hemorrhagic shock with a large hematoma. An INR test showed that her level was 9.9, which is dangerously high. The woman was given 11 units of packed red blood cells. She remained in the hospital for several days before being transported to a nursing home, where she was found unresponsive the next day. An ambulance was called but she died while being transported to the hospital.
If you suffered serious harm that may be due to medical malpractice in Maryland, you should promptly find a Maryland medical malpractice lawyer who may investigate your medical negligence claim for you and represent you in a Maryland medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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