$7 Million Settlement Reached After Patient Suffered Brain Injury at New Jersey Hospital

A $7 million settlement was reached after a patient suffered brain injury at a New Jersey Hospital.

A 55-year-old Wall Township man was taken to the Emergency Department of a New Jersey hospital after falling off a 4-foot ladder and landing on his back.  He was diagnosed with an L1 compression fracture that did not require surgery, but he was admitted to the hospital for observation and pain control.

In addition, he suffered from Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) for which he used a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine religiously at home.

The man was given pain medication in the Emergency Department and later was administered intravenous hydromorphone, a strong opioid used to treat moderate to severe pain.  A well-known side effect to any opioid drug is respiratory depression.  When the man’s wife returned early the next morning to visit her husband, he was unresponsive.  A “code blue” was called.  He was intubated and sent to the Intensive Care Unit.  An MRI later confirmed that he had suffered a severe brain injury caused by a lack of oxygen.  Once stable, the man was transferred to a long-term care facility where he died nearly 5 years later.

The man’s wife retained Jim Maggs from Maggs McDermott & DiCicco.  The Firm argued that the hospital and two of its nurses prescribed too high a dose of hydromorphone, failed to properly monitor him during the night and failed to provide the client with a CPAP machine that was needed due to his sleep apnea.

The Firm hired a myriad of experts who agreed that sleep apnea patients are at an increased risk of respiratory depression when given narcotics and require enhanced monitoring.  As a result of the lawsuit, the hospital adopted new procedures for monitoring patients suffering from OSA while being administered narcotic medications.  The man’s family was awarded a $7 million settlement for the man’s brain injury and subsequent death.

“Although no amount of money could ever be enough when someone loses a loved one, the $7 million recovery was fair and reasonable,” said Jim Maggs.

For more information on the Firm’s Personal Injury practice, click here.

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