$325,000 Settlement for Wrongful Death - Failure to Diagnose Hemorrhage in 73-Year-Old Woman

On May 6, 2001, the 73-year-old decedent, who had a history of coronary artery disease, coronary artery bypass grafting, asthma, atrial fibrillation and high blood pressure, was transported to the Morton Hospital Emergency Department with complaints of nausea, vomiting, difficulty breathing, a headache and a "floppy" arm.

Upon arrival, the decedent's blood pressure was extremely high, and a chest X-ray revealed moderate congestive heart failure. The decedent was treated with nitroglycerin to bring her blood pressure down and Lasix, a diuretic, to relieve the congestive heart failure.

The defendant physician assumed care of the decedent at 3:30 p.m., and nurse's notes indicated that the decedent has slurred speech.

At 6 p.m., vitamin K was administered, and, by 8 p.m., the decedent was described as minimally responsive. A CT performed until 9:30 p.m. revealed a massive bleed in her brain and some edema of the brain stem with a question of early herniation.

The decedent was transferred by med flight to Brigham Women's Hospital, where she was noted to be unresponsive. Despite treatment, her condition did not change. On May 7, 2001, the family withdrew life support and she died. The cause of death was a cerebellar hemorrhage.

The plaintiff sued the defendant physician, alleging that the physician failed to administer fresh frozen plasma to treat the decedent's grossly elevated bleeding time.

The defendant was expected to present witnesses to testify that the use of vitamin K was appropriate, that there were risks associated with the use of fresh frozen plasma, and that the decision to use vitamin K was reasonable. The defendant was further expected to testify that she was not aware of the elevated bleeding time until just prior to administering the vitamin K.