$1.2 Million Awarded in Medical Malpractice / Wrongful Death Case of Jones v. Harford Memorial Hospital, et al
This case involved the death of a 59 year old African American gentleman at Harford Memorial Hospital from a pulmonary embolism.
Mr. Jones was admitted to Harford Memorial Hospital and underwent surgery to relieve a hernia and small bowel obstruction. The health care providers gave Mr. Jones mechanical sequential compression devices instead of anticoagulation medication to reduce the risk of the development of blood clots.
At around 2:00 pm on the first post-operative day, Mr. Jones was walking in the hallway with his wife and a nurse when he nearly passed out and had to be assisted back to his room where he was placed in bed and given oxygen. His heart rate and respiratory rate became abnormally elevated and his oxygen saturation temporarily decreased to 92%. The nurse on duty reported this event to a hospitalist. The hospitalist made no contemporaneous notes about this event and there is no evidence that he came to see Mr. Jones. The hospitalist didn’t remember if he did, but that he was aware of Mr. Jones’ condition. His only orders were for saline, pain medication and a bladder scan. He attributed the event to dehydration and orthostatic hypotension.
Our expert witnesses testified that the hospitalist was negligent in his failure to examine the patient and include a pulmonary embolism on the differential diagnosis. Had he complied with the standards of care, a CT angiogram of the chest would have been performed that would have likely shown a small, non-fatal pulmonary embolism. Mr. Jones would have been started on therapeutic blood thinners and not suffered a fatal pulmonary embolism the next day.
Mr. Jones’ heart rate and respiratory rate remained elevated over-night. The next morning Mr. Jones complained of some anxiety and shortness of breath. Around noon he was found face down in his room barely breathing with a shallow pulse. Shortly thereafter he lost his pulse and stopped breathing. A code was called, but he could not be resuscitated.
A hospital autopsy confirmed that he died of a pulmonary embolism.
Our expert pathologist reviewed the autopsy and opined that there was evidence of two different emboli: an older non-fatal pulmonary embolism that he timed to be consistent with Mr. Jones’ pre-syncopal event and another newer, larger, fresh clot than the one identified as being present the previous day. The larger more recent clot was the cause of death.
The jury found that the hospitalist breached the standard of care and caused Mr. Jones’s death. They awarded a little over $1,200,000 to be paid by the hospitalist’s employer, Harford Memorial Hospital.
We are very happy for our clients who are a wonderful family. Mr. Jones was described as a truly special son, husband and father. We are glad that they received their day in court and obtained justice.