Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Failure to respond left patient brain damaged

A patient remained untreated for nine minutes after going into cardiac arrest at a medical center. Though the patient was revived, he suffered severe brain injury and his family later decided to remove him from life support.

The state where this incident occurred fined the medical center $100,000, which is the maximum fine that can be handed down under state law. This was also the third time that this specific medical center had been fined since 2009.

The incident involved an elderly man that was admitted to the hospital after a fall at home where the patient briefly lost consciousness. Though the patient was placed upon a heart monitor, a nurse later found the patient lying on the floor and the monitor disconnected. Though the nurse announced on the intercom system a problem with the monitor, no one responded for another nine minutes.

Unfortunately, there is little that can be done for a patient once the onset of brain damage occurs. Generally such damage will occur if the heart does not beat for more than six minutes, and the brain damage that does occur is in almost all circumstances irreversible.

Hospitals need to be held accountable by attorneys for the patients and court systems because these sorts of errors could easily have been avoidable if the facility had some safety check in place that would immediately alert staff to problems.

The hospital did implement a new procedure for alerting nursing staff regarding problems with monitoring. Though it's too late for such a system to be used to save the patient mentioned above, at least this may prevent a repeat of such an occurrence in the future.

Source: Mercury News, "Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose fined $100,000 for medical error," by Sandy Kleffman, Feb. 6, 2013

  • Our Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania attorneys will assist victims of hospital errors that have led to brain injuries or other sorts of medical problems.

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