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ARTICLE ID 202023

$________ – MEDICAL MALPRACTICE – REHAB FACILITY NEGLIGENCE – PLAINTIFF RECOVERING FROM BILATERAL CEREBELLAR STROKE FALLS AS HE IS BEING TRANSFERRED FROM BED TO WHEELCHAIR – PLAINTIFF CONTENDS HEAD TRAUMA RESULTS IN HEMORRHAGE CULMINATING IN MASSIVE BRAIN STEM BLEED SEVERAL HOURS LATER – PLAINTIFF NOW NEEDS FEEDING TUBE, CANNOT SPEAK ABOVE A WHISPER, AND IS UNABLE TO WALK.

Essex County, NJ

This malpractice case involved a then 59-year-old man who had been transferred to the defendant rehabilitation facility approximately one month after having been hospitalized following a bilateral cerebral stroke. The plaintiff contended that the defendant’s nurse’s aide negligently failed to provide adequate assistance or ask for help from another worker, who was in the room, to assist in transferring the very tall plaintiff, who also suffered a forward kyphosis, from his bed to a wheelchair. The plaintiff contended that as a result, he fell and struck his his head with great force, suffering a head injury and hemorrhage. The plaintiff maintained that the hemorrhage resulted in a brain stem bleed several hours later which will permanently necessitate his need for a feeding tube, and which will permanently prevent the plaintiff from either walking or speaking above a whisper. The defendant maintained that the incident occurred in the absence of negligence.

The evidence revealed that at the time of the incident, the plaintiff was 6 ’ 2’’ tall and weighed approximately ________ lbs. The defendant’s nurse’s aide was 5 ’7" tall and weighed approximately ________ lbs. The plaintiff maintained that especially great care should have been taken when attempting to transfer him from the bed to the wheelchair and that in view of the size and weight differences, and the availability of another worker who was present in the room, the nurse’s aide was negligent in failing to ask for help in making the transfer. The plaintiff further contended that the defendant’s nurse’s aide did not properly position herself behind the wheelchair and the bed to prevent the plaintiff, who has forward kyphosis, from striking the floor in the event he lost his balance during the transfer.

The plaintiff contended that although the underlying stroke had caused extensive deficits, the plaintiff had been making significant progress with his rehabilitation. The plaintiff argued that if the trauma of the subject incident had not occurred, the residual cognitive deficit would have been relatively mild and that he could have returned to a somewhat normal like. The plaintiff, who did not dispute that he would have been left with significant balance and gait issues from the underlying stroke, maintained that he would have been able to ambulate with the assistance of a cane.

It was undisputed that the brain stem bleed, which occurred several hours after the subject fall, was the cause of the plaintiff’s current, severe deficits. It was also undisputed that that a brain stem bleed would not directly flow from a head trauma. The defendant’s expert neuroradiologist would have opined that the brain stem bleed was a natural consequence of the prior stroke, which would have inevitably occurred irrespective of the fall, and the fact that the brain stem bleed occurred later on the same day as the fall was merely a coincidence. The plaintiff denied that the defendant’s position in this regard should be accepted and contended that the head trauma had caused a hemorrhage and that the "Mass effect" of the hemorrhage was to place extensive pressure on the brain stem which ultimately caused the brain stem bleed that led to the plaintiff’s catastrophic injuries.

The plaintiff had been employed as a computer programmer and was earning approximately $________ per year. The plaintiff contended that even though it was doubtful he would have been able to return to this prior employment following the stroke, he would have probably been able to find some type of gainful employment after completing his rehabilitation program.The case settled prior to trial for $________.

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