Plaintiff Patricia O’Brien was a 53 year old college graduate employed by Easter Seals of New Jersey. She presented to Morristown Medical Center on November 9, 2013 after pulling over to the side of the road with shortness of breath, confusion and incoherence. EMS transported her for triage and evaluation. She complained of a dull frontal headache and her mental status remained altered. She was seen by a physician for the first time almost two hours into her emergency department stay and was then placed in psychiatric observation status without diagnostic studies. She continued to deteriorate, with level or consciousness remaining altered and was finally sent for a head CT approximately six (6) hours after initial presentation. The head CT showed diffuse subarachnoid hemorrhage with interventricular hemorrhage, hydrocephalus with enlargement of lateral and third ventricles and diffuse cerebral edema. O’Brien was then transported to Overlook Hospital and underwent treatment for the critical brain bleed. She suffers permanent impairment with lifelong deficiencies requiring 24/7 supervision and care.
Suit identified ED nurses, the hospital, a first-year resident and the attending doctor, as well as the attending doctor’s group practice, EMA. Plaintiff’s experts opined that it was a deviation to ignore the obvious signs and symptoms of the neurologic issue and refer for only psychiatric evaluation. The experts further expressed that had a head CT been ordered earlier in the ED, the patient would have likely received earlier intervention for the brain bleed and would have avoided the catastrophic injury that occurred. The case partially settled in 2018 for $5.1 million against the hospital and nurses. The additional settlement of $2.1 million included claims against the attending emergency physician and EMA for not properly evaluating a neurologic cause of deterioration. Total settlement: $7.2 million.
Bruce H. Nagel, Esq. and Susan F. Connors, Esq. handled the case.