Wrongful Death In Soon-To-Be Physician Settles for $5 Million in San Francisco Medical Malpractice Lawsuit, Part 2 of 2

The following blog entry is written to illustrate an example of a medical malpractice case. Reviewing this kind of lawsuit should help potential plaintiffs and clients better understand how parties in personal injury cases present such issues to the court. It is worth noting that situations similar to those described in this medical malpractice case could just as easily occur at any of the healthcare facilities in the area, such as Kaiser Permanente, UCSF Medical Center, San Francisco General, California Pacific Medical Center, or St. Francis Memorial Hospital.

(Please also note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this personal injury case and its proceedings.)

The plaintiffs contended that a general anesthesiologist should have been employed during the second procedure because the decedent had undergone an ERCP procedure five days earlier, during which she proved to be difficult to sedate and became combative during the procedure. The plaintiffs argued that if a general anesthesiologist was managing her airway, her exhaled carbon dioxide would have been monitored through capnography and the respiratory arrest that led to a cardiac arrest would have been prevented. The plaintiffs also contended that there was a failure to competently assess the decedent’s airway and remove the endoscope when the decedent’s pulse oximeter readings dropped and then became undetectable. The plaintiffs argued that once it was noted that the decedent was in ventricular tachycardia, six minutes elapsed before the Code team attempted cardioversion.

The plaintiffs relied on their experts in anesthesiology and cardiology, who contended that as soon as a crash cart was brought into the room, within a minute or two of calling the Code, the decedent should have been defibrillated.

The defendant argued that it was within the standard of care not to use an anesthesiologist for the second ERCP procedure and to proceed with a sedation nurse without the benefit of capnography. It added that standard sedation medications and dosages were used, and changes in the oxygen saturation readings were not reflective of an obstructed airway or respiratory arrest. The decedent’s oxygen saturation values returned to the high nineties when a second pulse oximeter was employed, and it was only after the decedent independently developed an arrhythmia that ventricular tachycardia developed and she arrested.

For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.

The plaintiffs’ counsel noted that even though vital sign data was not retrieved from the monitor, the defendant claimed that efforts to defibrillate the decedent began shortly after the crash cart arrived.

The decedent’s husband, daughter and parents sought recovery for wrongful death damages.

The defense economist argued for a much higher reduction of the decedent’s probable income for personal consumption. The defense also argued that with the decedent’s full-time employment in her specialty, any household services that she would have provided were minimal.

RESULT: Settlement
Award Total: $5,000,000

After a full day of mediation and subsequent depositions of liability experts, further direct negotiation resulted in a settlement offer of $5 million, which was the limit of the Regents self-insurance. The parties agreed to non-economic damages of $250,000 and economic damages of $4.75 million, primarily loss of support, with some loss of household services and funeral expenses.

For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.

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