Jury Sides With Defense in Complex Medical Malpractice Trial
Obtained a defense verdict after a five-week medical malpractice trial in New Jersey. The plaintiffs alleged that our clients, an emergency medicine physician and a nurse practitioner, failed to diagnose and test for a subarachnoid hemorrhage (brain bleed) in a patient who came to the Emergency Department with a non-traumatic nosebleed and hypertension. When she arrived at the ER, the 59-year-old plaintiff was evaluated by the nurse practitioner, who performed a full exam of the patient and treated the nosebleed with nasal packing. Following the packing, the plaintiff complained of a headache and was seen by a physician. Since the plaintiff had not taken her blood pressure medicine for a few days, her antihypertensive medication was restarted and Tylenol, or a Percocet, was ordered for the headache. By midnight, our client felt the blood pressure was still elevated, and the patient was admitted to the hospital. The case was discussed with the attending physician, and a cardiology consult was ordered, ending our client's responsibility to the patient. Overnight the plaintiff had nausea, vomiting and an excruciating headache for which the attending physician ordered Dilaudid. She was seen by her cardiologist in the morning, who attributed the symptoms to nasal packing. At approximately 7:00 p.m. (27 hours after she arrived at the ER) the plaintiff had a sudden loss of consciousness. An immediate CT scan revealed a massive subarachnoid hemorrhage. In a CT angiogram taken a few hours later, no aneurysm was seen, although brain death was confirmed. The plaintiff contended that the ER physician, the hospitalist and cardiologist all missed the signs of a sentinal bleed (bleed from an aneurysm in the brain) and that a CT scan should have been performed in the ER (or later) which would have been positive for a bleed. Our endovascular neurology expert testified that there was no aneurysm and that there were no symptoms of a sentinal bleed while under our clients' care. The co-defendant's experts, a neurosurgeon and neuroradiologist, also testified there was no aneurysm. The jury deliberated two hours and returned a defense verdict.