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Philadelphia County, PA

This patient safety case arises out of the defendants’ failure to timely communicate the plaintiff’s life-threatening condition to him, and failure to timely diagnose and treat these conditions as well. As a result, the plaintiff is now a paraplegic. The defendants denied being negligent, and argued that when the plaintiff could not be reached by telephone, he was sent a certified letter as is protocol.

During November of ________, the 44 year-old male plaintiff experienced severe pain in his back between his shoulder blades. On November 7, ________, the plaintiff called ________ and was taken by ambulance to the emergency department at the defendant hospital with complaints of severe back pain, equal to 12 out of 10 on a pain scale with symptoms of difficulty breathing, fever, nausea, and vomiting. The plaintiff disclosed to the staff that he was an IV heroin user. While in the emergency department, the plaintiff was given pain medication, blood was drawn for blood cultures, an EKG was performed, and x-rays were taken. The plaintiff’s blood tests revealed a white blood cell count of 15.1 which was a sign of infection. Despite classic signs and symptoms of infection, elevated white blood cell count, fever, and nausea, as well as his increased risk of an epidural abscess from IV heroin use – the plaintiff was discharged to home with pain medication and no prophylactic antibiotics. On November 8, ________, the hospital reported to the defendant doctors a positive blood culture finding of staphylococcus aureus and positive finding of methicillin resistant staph aureus. The defendants failed to get in touch with the plaintiff and report this life threatening condition. On the morning of November 9, ________, the plaintiff woke up to find that he had no feeling below his nipple line and could not stand up. He was rushed back to the defendant hospital and diagnosed with an epidural abscess involving the thoracic spine from T2 to T6 and emergency surgery was performed. Despite removal of the abscess, the plaintiff remains paralyzed. The plaintiff maintained the defendants were negligent in failing to do the following: Timely diagnose the plaintiff’s epidural abscess, timely communicate the diagnosis of the plaintiff’s epidural abscess, make adequate attempts to contact the plaintiff regarding his life threatening epidural abscess, contact the plaintiff’s mother whom he listed as an emergency contact, or the police in order to get in contact with the plaintiff in light of his life-threatening epidural abscess, and failing to prescribe and provide prophylactic antibiotics to the plaintiff when infection was suspected – especially in light of the plaintiff’s symptoms of infection and his admission to IV drug use. The defendants denied they were negligent, and argued that the plaintiff’s symptoms were not indicative of an epidural abscess when he presented to the ER. The defendants further argued that the plaintiff was instructed to return to the hospital if his condition worsened, which he did not do. The defendants argued that the plaintiff’s IV drug use, and failure to return to the hospital, made him comparatively negligentThe jury found in favor of the plaintiff, and awarded him $________. All other parties settled prior to trial. Prior to the verdict, the plaintiff had settled with the hospital for a confidential sum, and had also entered into a high-low agreement with the defendant doctor. That number was also confidential.

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