$5.1 Million Medical Malpractice Settlement
Plaintiff Patricia O’Brien was a 53 year old college graduate employed by Easter Seals of New Jersey. She went to Morristown Medical Center on November 9, 2013 after pulling over to the side of the road with shortness of breath, confusion, and incoherence. She complained of a dull frontal headache and her mental status remained altered. She was first seen by a physician almost two hours later and was then placed in a ‘psychiatric hold’ at that time, more than 2 1/2 hours into her stay, without diagnostic studies. She continued to deteriorate, with level or consciousness remaining altered and was finally sent for a head CT approximately six hours after she first went to the emergency room. A head CT scan showed a diffuse subarachnoid hemorrhage with interventricular hemorrhage, hydrocephalus with enlargement of lateral and third ventricles and diffuse cerebral edema. O’Brien was then transported from Morristown Medical Center to Overlook Hospital and underwent treatment for the critical brain bleed. She suffers permanent impairment with lifelong deficiencies requiring 24/7 supervision and care.
Plaintiff brought claims against the hospital, nurses, and a resident physician in the emergency department. The claims alleged that the hospital, nurses, and resident were negligent in failing to recognize and refer O’Brien’s neurologic abnormalities for immediate CT scan and emergent follow up for focused exam and additional imaging. 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 stated that had a head CT scan been ordered earlier the patient would have likely received earlier intervention for the brain bleed and would have avoided the catastrophic injury that occurred. The case settled for $5.1 million.