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York County, PA

The estate of the decedent in this wrongful death action alleged that a hospital resident and cardiologist showed a lack of communication with doctors and violated patient safety rules, contributing to the decedent’s death from retroperitoneal bleeding and cardiogenic shock. The defendants, including the hospital and the on-call cardiology practice group, maintained that the decedent suffered an unavoidable heart attack which caused her death.

Evidence showed that the decedent underwent a successful cardiac stent procedure and was transferred to the defendant hospital’s intensive care unit (“ICU “) for observation. Records documented that she arrived in the ICU with a blood pressure of 65/46 and a heart rate of ________; signs which the plaintiff’s experts testified were a clear indication of shock. Yet, the plaintiff claimed that the hospital’s resident proceeded in a routine fashion without ordering any tests to find the cause of the decedent’s shock and/or attempt to fix the problem before the patient was harmed.

The plaintiff alleged that the defendant hospital’s resident did not follow the cardiologist’s orders to notify the doctor if the decedent’s blood pressure dropped too low or heart rate rose too high. The plaintiff claimed that the defendants failed to promptly act and order the proper tests in response to the decedent’s shock and that the hospital resident and the cardiologist violated a patient safety rule which mandated that shock must be treated as an emergency medical condition.

The plaintiff also alleged that the defendants did not adhere to a patient safety rule which states that: "doctors must communicate clearly with one another." The resident and on-call cardiologist disputed the contents of a phone call made about the patient’s condition. The plaintiff contended that the decedent exhibited a dangerous drop in blood pressure with increase in heart rate which was not properly treated. If investigated, hemorrhagic shock from internal bleeding following a cardiac catheritization and stent placement would have been diagnosed. Instead, the decedent died of retroperitoneal bleeding and cardiogenic shock, according to the plaintiff’s claims.

The plaintiff’s experts testified that the defendants should have found the cause of the decedent’s shock (bleeding); repaired it, treated it, stopped the blood thinners, administered fresh frozen plasma and more fluids. The plaintiff also claimed that a simple test, like an EKG or blood work, would have helped make the diagnosis. The decedent was survived by her husband of 33 years and three adult children.

The resident testified that he spoke to the on-call cardiologist and described the patient’s status, including low blood pressure, high heart rate, anxiety and pain, and that he was concerned because she was in shock. However, the cardiologist testified that he was never given any such information and was informed that the patient was in stable condition. The cardiologist further testified that, had he known the decedent’s true condition, he would have responded with emergent treatment and ordered tests to find the cause of the shock and treat it. Both defendants maintained that the decedent suffered a serious heart attack causing the cardiogenic shock.The jury found the defendant hospital 75% negligent and the defendant cardiology practice 25% negligent. The plaintiff was awarded $________ in damages. The plaintiff’s motion for delay damages is pending.

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