The Illinois medical malpractice attorneys at Lipkin & Higgins were referred the case of C.T., a 65 year old woman who fell while going down the stairs of her suburban home, fracturing her ankle. C.T. was taken by ambulance to her local hospital, where her fracture was reduced in the emergency room by closed manipulation, and her ankle was placed in a soft cast. Because of the amount of swelling, definitive treatment - surgery with insertion of pins/plate - would have to be put off a few days.
C. T. was intravenously given Dilaudid, a potent pain medication, then transferred to a telemetry unit. A telemetry unit is one where a patient is attached to electronic monitors for vital functions, such as heart rate and respirations, and continuous information is conveyed to a nurse's station. It is for patients who require intensive monitoring. In C.T.'s case, she was placed in the telemetry unit because she had history of heart surgery a year earlier.
15 hours after admission, C.T. was seen by an orthopedic surgeon, who again performed a closed manipulation and applied a cast. To help control our patient’s pain, the surgeon ordered more Dilaudid and Vicodin, another potent narcotic pain medication.
45 minutes later, C.T.'s heart rate dropped to 34 beats per minute (normal is 60-100), and then to 28 bpm. Although she remained tethered to electronic monitors, staff did not come in for several minutes, until a telemetry tech called the nurse’s station. By the time doctors reached her, C.T. was in full cardiac arrest and had no pulse. A code blue emergency was called. C.T. survived, but the delay in responding to her rapidly falling heart rate resulted in hypoxic encephalopathy - a brain injury caused by an insufficiency of oxygen to the brain.
C.T. was transferred to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago for several weeks, and then to other rehab facilities closer to home. An educated woman with an advanced degree in social work, C.T. suffered a permanent partial loss of memory and speech, and can no longer independently perform common activities of daily living like walking, bathing, eating and toileting. Our client now requires an around the clock care giver.
Lipkin & Higgins medical malpractice lawyers hired experts to perform a neuropsychological evaluation and developed a life care plan for C.T. In a highly unusual, but commendable manner, the hospital acknowledged negligence while our client was in their care, and sought mediation before litigation to try and resolve the case.
C.T.'s 3 intelligent, caring and devoted children attended and actively participated in the all-day mediation, which concluded with the hospital agreeing to pay a $4,000,000 medical malpractice settlement. This sum represented a very large healthcare negligence settlement in the conservative county where trial would have occurred, and was accepted by C.T. and her family.
When medical malpractice causes further injury, turn to the veteran attorneys of Lipkin & Higgins to handle your case. Contact us to take advantage of our free consultation, available over the phone or in our Chicago office.