Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP partner Kathleen Kettles obtained a $1,150,000 settlement for the family of a 74-year-old, widowed woman who emigrated from Korea and lived with her adult son. She was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease and was emergently hospitalized to receive in-patient kidney dialysis. Her prior history included heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes mellitus. In order to facilitate dialysis, a catheter had to be placed in the internal jugular vein in the neck which is adjacent to the carotid artery. During discovery depositions, Kathleen was able to prove that the procedure had been attempted 2 to 3 times by the nephrology fellow before being taken over by an experienced physician assistant (PA), who successfully inserted the catheter.
During those attempts the resident perforated the carotid artery which began to bleed internally, causing swelling of the neck and deviation of the tongue. The PA urgently inserted an endotracheal tube in order to prevent respiratory arrest. She was then taken to the operating room for a repair of the artery by the placement of a stent.
Due to her illness, it took time for her to recover from this event and, within two weeks, they performed a tracheostomy so they could wean her slowly from the ventilator and they inserted a feeding tube – a PEG – into her stomach so that she could be fed. Unfortunately, the PEG tube migrated, perforated the stomach and collapsed her lung, resulting in septic shock. She was again taken to the operating room to repair these injuries. As a result of the tube feed getting into her abdomen, she developed sepsis and subsequently died in the hospital.