Sommers Schwartz attorney Matthew Turner obtained a confidential $500,000 medical malpractice settlement for the estate of an 81-year-old woman who died from food asphyxiation while recovering from a surgical procedure.
The decedent arrived at the hospital for a scheduled transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). In this procedure, surgeons insert a guidewire and catheter into a patient’s femoral artery and through the axillary artery. They use this sheath as a passageway to guide the positioning of a collapsible prosthetic valve in the heart. The patient’s surgery was completed successfully, and she was transferred to the cardiac intensive care unit (CICU) to begin her recovery.
Although the TAVR procedure is less invasive than a traditional open-heart surgical valve replacement, hospital staff must monitor patients after surgery and take appropriate steps to minimize post-operative complications. This includes following established protocols and physician’s orders for feeding the patient to avoid potential aspiration or food asphyxiation.
Tragically, a dinner tray was placed in the patient’s room. CICU staff did not follow the required procedures to ensure she could safely drink liquids or consume food, assist her, or monitor her as she began eating. Left unsupervised, she asphyxiated and died.
The patient’s daughter brought a wrongful death lawsuit, alleging the hospital staff’s negligence and breach of the standard of care caused the avoidable, premature death of her mother. The parties settled before trial.
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