Monday, September 17, 2012

Jury Holds York Hospital Responsible in Patient's Death

A York County jury has held York Hospital and a local cardiology practice responsible for violating patient safety rules, which, as a result, caused the death of a 53-year-old York County woman.  

While representing the victim's family, Jaime Jackson, Esq., an attorney with the law firm of Atlee Hall, LLP in Lancaster,  presented extensive evidence concerning multiple violations of patient safety rules, including the fact that a York Hospital resident did not follow the cardiologist's orders to notify the doctor if the patient's blood pressure dropped too low or heart rate rose too high.  

Jackson also argued that the resident and doctor violated a patient safety rule that shock must be treated as an emergency because they failed to promptly act and order the proper tests.  

Another fundamental patient safety rule discussed at trial was that "doctors must communicate clearly with one another." Some of the trial's most dramatic points centered around a telephone call between the York Hospital resident and on-call cardiologist.  

At times during their testimony, it looked as though the two were blaming each other. The incident in question occurred after the patient had just undergone a successful cardiac stent procedure and been transferred to the hospital's ICU for observation. She arrived in the ICU with a blood pressure of 65/46 and a heart rate of 128 -- clear signs of shock, yet, according to testimony, the resident proceeded in a routine fashion, without ordering any tests to find the cause of the shock and/or attempt to fix the problem before the patient was harmed. 

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 patient's true condition, he would have responded with emergent treatment and ordered tests to find the cause of the shock and fix it. If he had done so, the patient's life could have been saved at any time. 

In his closing arguments, Jackson urged the jury to do the right thing: share this type of information with the community -- that hospitals and doctors cannot violate patient safety rules; doing so, resulted in the death of a human being. As such, they should be held accountable and responsible. 

Upon reaching a final verdict, the jury announced a $6 million decision on behalf of the woman's estate and surviving husband of 33 years, along with their three children.  

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