Congratulations to Mic McConnell and Tara Tighe for their medical malpractice/wrongful death settlement that earned a spotlight in “Man Sent Away From Hospital Without an Exam”, Virginia Lawyers Weekly, Volume 32-Number 27 (December 4, 2017.)
The case involved a 35-year old paraplegic man in a wheelchair who was seen in the emergency room of a local hospital on November 24, 2014. Upon being assigned a room, he was attended by the defendant nurse and defendant emergency physician.
His medical records from that emergency room visit note an elevated temperature, increased heart rate, low respiratory rate, elevated red and white blood cell counts, low platelets, and a critically-low potassium level. Also noted were traces of blood and protein in the man’s urine. Even though he was paralyzed and had no muscle control of his legs, his chart also noted that he had a “steady” gait and that his lower extremity movements were equal.
Despite his history and his signs and symptoms at the time he visited the emergency room, he was discharged to home. He returned to the hospital by ambulance the following day suffering from septic shock.
According to the feature in Virginia Lawyers Weekly, “He was admitted immediately to the ICU due to urinary tract infection and a necrotic right foot (necrotizing fasciitis). His kidneys stopped working and he required intubation and ventilation. He underwent multiple procedures for necrotic tissue and amputation of his right leg. After five cardiac arrests, he could not be resuscitated and was pronounced dead.”
Necrotizing fasciitis is a bacterial infection—sometimes referred to as a “flesh-eating” infection—that can be easily identified by a visual examination. The decedent’s emergency room discharge was deemed as negligent and as directly resulting in his death because of the attendants’ failure to identify the necrosis.
The case settled in mediation five months before trial for $875,000 with both defendants contributing.