Plaintiff brought a nursing home negligence lawsuit against defendant nursing home and defendant nurse, as a result of the defendants’ failure to recognize that a resident was having internal bleeding, which led to her demise.
The decedent had a series of loose black tarry stools over a period of about six hours. Black tarry stools are a clear indicator for upper-gastrointestinal bleeding, which needs immediate medical attention.
The nursing assistant caring for the resident notified the nurse of her black tarry stools several times throughout that night. The nurse failed to check the resident’s vital signs, and he failed to conduct a nursing assessment on the resident.
Plaintiff alleged that the nurse failed to properly monitor the resident’s condition throughout the night and failed to procure appropriate medical treatment for the resident. Further, the nurse failed to conduct an assessment on this resident once she became unresponsive and failed to initiate CPR, even though the resident was a full code.
Defendants alleged that the nurse’s actions were within the reasonable judgment discipline for a nurse, and thus not negligent. Further, defendants alleged that an upper-GI bleed was not a “significant change” for the resident, because she had suffered from some GI bleeding in the past (several years earlier).
Last, defendants argued that the decedent was not a surgical candidate, and therefore intimated that even if the defendant nurse had called the doctor, it would not have made any difference in the outcome. However, all experts in the case agreed that the resident’s life could have been saved, and most likely would have been saved, if she had been sent to the emergency room.
Type of action: Nursing home negligence
Injuries alleged: Wrongful death – No medical expenses incurred
Case name: Confidential
Case number: Confidential
Mediator: Robert Beason
Verdict or settlement: Settlement
Date: September 2010
Amount: $1.5 million
Experts: Dr. Ronald Schwarz, gastroenterologist
Were liability and/or damages contested? Yes
Was the opposing party represented by legal counsel? Yes
Has the plaintiff been successful in actually collecting the judgment? Yes, the full amount of settlement was paid.
Plaintiff’s attorney: Carma Henson of Henson Fuerst (Raleigh)
Editor’s note: The information in Lawyers Weekly’s verdicts and settlements reports was submitted by the counsel for the prevailing party and represents the attorney’s characterization of the case.t