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Sommers Schwartz attorney Matthew Turner obtained a confidential $450,000 wrongful death settlement for the estate of a 75-year-old woman who died days after undergoing cardiac surgery.
The decedent had acute coronary heart syndrome and was taking Coumadin, Plavix, and Vitamin E, which are known to increase a person’s risk of bleeding. When she presented to the defendant hospital in April 2017 with shortness of breath and chest pains, the defendant doctors determined that surgical intervention was necessary and she was taken to the operating room despite a pre-operative medical assessment showing an elevated international normalized ratio (INR), indicating an elevated risk for post-operative hemorrhaging.
After surgery, excessive amounts of blood began draining from the decedent’s chest tubes, but her doctors waited several hours before returning her to the OR to determine the source of the bleeding. During that delay, the decedent developed cardiac tamponade, a condition where blood or fluid fills the space between the sac that encases the heart and the heart muscle. The decedent went into cardiac arrest and suffered permanent brain damage, leading to her untimely death five days later.
Had the decedent been returned to surgery sooner, the internal bleeding would have been timely discovered, the source of the bleeding (a dislodged surgical clip) would have been found, and the bleeding would have been stopped and the cardiac tamponade would not have occurred. Additionally, the doctors failed to recognize and appreciate the decedent was at a higher risk for bleeding because of the medications she was taking.
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