A Dauphin County jury rendered a unanimous verdict of no negligence in favor of our client hospital and its attending physicians, residents and nurses after a week long trial defended by our Partner, Michael M. Badowski, Esq.
This case involved a 48 year old African-American gentleman who presented to our client hospital’s emergency department with a three day history of a painful “volley ball size” swelling of his scrotum. The patient was promptly seen by the ED physicians and medical residents. Blood work by way of CBC and two blood cultures were obtained. The man had a moderately elevated WBC with left shift bands. The blood cultures eventually reported no bacteremia. The patient had mildly elevated heart and respiratory rates. He was started on triple broad spectrum IV antibiotics. While in the ED, the man had one episode of hypotension which responded immediately to a bolus of fluid infusion. A urology consult was secured. The urologist performed an incision and drainage to the patient’s scrotum. Cultures of the wound grew gram positive staff in clusters which suggested the likelihood of MRSA which prompted our client attending medical physicians to add vancomycin to the patient’s antibiotic regimen. The patient was placed on telemetry and his vital signs remained stable although he did demonstrate mild increases in his heart and respiratory rates which was thought to be secondary to pain. Within an hour of the recording of the last vital signs, the patient suddenly arrested with a pulseless electrical heart rhythm. The code team succeeded in restoring heart and respiratory functioning but not in time to prevent anoxic brain damage. The man never regained consciousness and he was maintained on life support at a nursing facility until his death two years later.
Plaintiffs theory of liability was that the man had severe sepsis which progressed to septic shock that precipitated his cardiorespiratory arrest and that he should have been maintained in an ICU setting with placement of a CVP line. Plaintiffs’ well credentialed critical care expert postulated that closer monitoring would have prevented the patient’s arrest. By way of experts in the specialty fields of cardiology, infectious disease and internal medicine the defense successfully established that the man’s arrest was not due to septic shock but, rather, a likely pulmonary embolism.
Congratulations to Mike Badowski for this excellent result!