$1,500,000 Settlement in Wrongful Death for Lupus Sufferer

Medical Malpractice - Wrongful Death

WRSH partner Kathleen P. Kettles settled an action for medical malpractice and wrongful death for $1,500,000. The case involved a 32-year-old married woman with three children, who was diagnosed with lupus in 2004. Anna∗ received virtually all of her treatment from Bellevue Hospital Center, so the case was against the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (NYCHHC). As treatment for her lupus, Anna had been on prednisone for many years as well as other drugs. However, it is well known in the medical community that for lupus sufferers, long-term steroid use can cause early and aggressive atherosclerosis (clogging of arteries). In January 2010, Anna developed severe abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting and was taken to the hospital. There was evidence on CT scan that she had already suffered microperforation of the cecum (pouch between small and large intestines), but no operative intervention was taken until 16 hours after she arrived in the emergency department. She was transferred to the ICU where her condition deteriorated, but not operated until 2:40 p.m. Subsequent to the surgery, medical staff failed to properly monitor her coagulation parameters, failed to timely perform a second-look surgery, failed to timely anticoagulate her, failed to timely consult rheumatology, and failed to take timely imaging studies. As a result, Anna died a little less than a month after admission. This was a difficult case due to her preexisting condition of lupus and its effect on her life expectancy, but due to deposition and cross-examination of six of the main physicians, we were able to negotiate over an extended period of time with NYCHHC and come to a successful resolution for the family.

∗Name changed for privacy.

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