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Medical Malpractice: Brain Injury/Wrongful Death - $600,000 Settlement

Amount: (settlement): $600,000.
Attorney for plaintiff(s): Kenneth I. Kolpan

Other useful information:

The decedent, a fifty eight year old male, had undergone brain surgery for removal a cyst. Upon discharge to from the hospital, he was admitted to the care of the defendants at rehabilitation facility. While at the facility, numerous medical records noted that the decedent had balance problems and cognitive problems, all of which required use of a posey bar on his wheelchair and restraints on his bed. Decedent made progress during his rehabilitation stay of two plus weeks but was still under Physician Orders for restraints when the fatal incident occurred.

On July 4, 1999, one nurse defendant, a supervisor, told the second nurse defendant to give take the decedent to the bathroom for a sitz bath. The nursing supervisor failed to tell the second nurse to stay with the decedent during the sitz bath, even though the decedent had been supervised in a similar sitz bath the day before. The second nurse testified that she relied upon her supervisor for information regarding the patients she cared for because she did not read the medical records unless the case was "interesting".

The second nurse defendant assisted the decedent to the sitz bath and then left the decedent unattended for approximately twenty minutes and gave another patient a shower.

Twenty minutes later, the decedent's call light went on. When staff arrived, they found the decedent face down on the floor and unresponsive. He was transferred to a local hospital (the same one where he had had the brain surgery). Decedent was incapable of telling anyone what had happened and the circumstances of his fall of the sitz bath were never known. Decedent, father of three adult daughters and husband of thirty years, died eight days later.

Suit was brought against the two nurses and the hospital.

Discovery showed that the medical records and orders were replete with references to the decedent being at risk for falls requiring close supervision and restraints. One nurse defendant testified that she was unaware of the entries because she did not read the medical records unless the "case was interesting". The two defendant nurses failed to adequately supervise the decedent during the sitz bath, all in violation of Physician's Orders and contrary to acceptable nursing practices.

Defendants contended, among other things, that if the decedent had lived, he would have gone to a nursing home for further care and likely would have been disabled. Defendants alleged that the cause of the decedent's death was likely unrelated to his fall, possibly related to a slow bleed from the original brain surgery.

At the time of his fall, decedent was working as a greeter at a local store.

Plaintiff's counsel retained the services of a professional cinema photographer who created a trial video of witness testimony and medical evidence in support of the claims. The trial video served as the Plaintiff's settlement brochure.

The case settled for $600,000.00 two weeks after the parties attended a full day mediation conducted by Raymond Kenney, Esq.