Failure To Suction Temporarily Paralyzed Patient
Rehabilitation Facility failed to suction a patient with a tracheostomy and check oxygen saturation levels
Bronx County, NY
This medical malpractice action involved the plaintiff’s decedent, a retired married father of four, who contracted Guillain-Barre syndrome – a temporary paralyzing condition. The decedent was paralyzed from the shoulders down but was conscious, alert and able to express his needs. After responding well to IVIG treatments as an inpatient at a local hospital, he was transferred to the defendant rehabilitation specialty hospital for continued therapy in July 2015. The center determined that he should be suctioned at least every two hours as needed and rounded every 15 minutes for safety. The plaintiff contended that less that on the second night of his arrival to the rehabilitation center, she observed his breathing was labored. She had asked the nurse to suction him and to check his oxygenation level. The nurse said it would be checked at the next shift. At the next shift, his oxygen levels were not checked. Thereafter, the decedent coded. The center did not have epinephrine available. The decedent suffered a lack of oxygen to the brain. He lived a few months in a vegetative state and expired in October 2015.
The plaintiff maintained that the decedent’s complaints were not timely investigated. That his oxygen levels should have been checked, he should have been suctioned, and the center should have had epinephrine. The defendant’s medical records last documented the decedent’s oxygen levels four hours prior to the decedent’s coding. Prior to the defendant depositions, the parties mediated a settlement for $815,000 of $1 million total available coverage.