A Florida jury found Palmetto General Hospital in Hialeah, FL, negligent for clearing a woman for kidney stone surgery even though she had a bleeding disorder, awarding $2 million as compensation to her estate.
Olga Sanchez died at the hospital on May 4, 2011, her 50th birthday.
The jury also found the hospital negligent for defects in its systems -- which caused a long delay in getting test results -- and for the negligence of its physicians.
Never provided appropriate care
According to court documents, Olga Sanchez had been admitted to the hospital after complaints of upper abdominal pain and urination of blood. During her admission, she was examined by a hematologist and her lab tests were interpreted by a clinical pathologist. Despite a laboratory diagnosis of a bleeding disorder, the doctors and the hospital never provided appropriate care to stop the internal bleeding.
Stuart N. Ratzan and Stuart J. Weissman, Florida medical malpractice trial attorneys, with Ratzan Law Group, PA, represented the plaintiff.
Sanchez had a rare but well-known bleeding disorder known as acquired Factor VIII inhibitor. Blood tests at the hospital, performed as part of the pre-operative workup, showed the probable Factor VIII inhibitor -- an urgent, life threatening condition.
Additional testing was sent out to a distant lab in North Carolina. It took almost a full week for the results to come back. Meanwhile, despite the initial laboratory data -- while the blood tests were pending in North Carolina -- Sanchez was cleared for surgery and underwent the procedures.
Her bleeding condition worsened after the procedure and her condition rapidly deteriorated.
Delayed lab results
After almost two weeks in the hospital, she showed evidence of hypoxia (lack of oxygen) and was intubated due to respiratory failure. At this point the hematologist finally received the results from the North Carolina laboratory, finally noted Factor VIII inhibitor, and days later decided to contact other outside physicians for assistance. Olga’s health had continued to deteriorate. She developed multisystem organ failure and ultimately passed away.
Her husband filed suit against Palmetto General Hospital, because the hospital and doctors violated three patient safety rules:
The plaintiff contended throughout trial that these patient safety rules are necessary to prevent harm and death to anyone who is a patient of a hospital or a doctor.