Patient Dies After Catheter Pump is Found to Have Holes in It
In Cleeton v. SIU Healthcare, Inc., the plaintiff sustained an injury when he was 17 years old that rendered him a quadriplegic. As a result of his injury, the plaintiff suffered involuntary muscle spasms for which he received routine treatment. Namely, the plaintiff had a pump installed that delivered the muscle relaxer Baclofen into his system. The pump consisted of two parts: the pump itself and a catheter that delivered the muscle relaxer into the spine. The pump was managed by SIU Healthcare, Inc.
Facts of the case
In October of 2017, the plaintiff and his mother, who filed suit on his behalf, went to SIU Healthcare for a routine refill of the Baclofen. One nurse made repeated attempts to fill the pump and failed. A second medical professional successfully refilled the pump, but not before they inserted the needle into the plaintiff’s abdomen. Four days later, the plaintiff went to the emergency room complaining of a headache, abdominal pain, and increased muscle spasms. The plaintiff also stated that he recently suffered from a urinary tract infection.
Once the patient presented to the ER, the doctor had a representative of the company that manufactured the pump perform diagnostics on the pump to see that it was working properly. The representative found that the pump was, in fact, working properly and delivering the correct amount of Baclofen to the plaintiff. At this point, the plaintiff was not getting enough Baclofen in his system and because he was a regular user of the medication, was experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms. However, the differential diagnosis included both Baclofen Withdrawal Syndrome (BWS) and sepsis. Because the patient’s tone was normal, doctors downplayed the risk of BWS and the pump appeared to be working properly.
On October 30th, the plaintiff lost consciousness and was without a pulse. The doctor called for a dose of Baclofen but it was too late. The patient was pronounced dead. His mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit against several of the doctors who rendered care to her son after it was determined that the pump catheter had holes in it and was not delivering the Baclofen to the patient.
The lawsuit named several defendants who contributed potential liability to the death of the patient. In this case, the doctors considered the correct diagnosis of BWS, but disregarded it. However, the medical basis for disregarding the correct diagnosis could have been sound. In a medical malpractice lawsuit, the plaintiff has the burden of proving that a typical doctor would have treated for BWS earlier based on the information gathered. By the time a Baclofen injection was administered, the plaintiff was too far gone. It is likely that the pump had holes in it from the injection that took place initially. That likely caused the death of this patient. So the doctors that administered that first dose are probably on the hook for medical malpractice.
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If you or a loved one has been injured in a nursing home setting, you may be able to file a lawsuit to recover damages. Call the Decatur personal injury lawyers at Patel Law, PC today to schedule a free consultation and we can discuss your injuries in greater detail.