Patient went into cardiac arrest while using hallway bathroom
|Failure to Monitor, Medical Malpractice - Delayed Treatment|
|Janet Richardson on behalf of Darryl Richardson, an incompetent adult, and U.R., a minor, and J.R., a minor v. United States of America, No. :10-cv-00903-FB|
|United States District Court, Western District, San Antonio, TX|
- Laurie M. Higginbotham; Archuleta, Alsaffar & Higginbotham; Austin, TX, for Janet Richardson, Darryl Richardson, U.R., J.R.
- Thomas Mayor Ph.D.; Economics; Houston, TX called by: Laurie Higginbotham
- Michael Rothkopf M.D.; Cardiology; Irving, TX called by: Laurie Higginbotham
- David Altman M.D.; Neurology; San Antonio, TX called by: Laurie Higginbotham
- Dan Bagwell B.S.N., R.N.; Life Care Planning; San Antonio, TX called by: Laurie Higginbotham
- Alex Willingham M.D.; Life Care Planning; San Antonio, TX called by: Laurie Higginbotham
- Norman Andrews; Nursing Administration; Westminster, CA called by: Laurie Higginbotham
- Clayton R. Diedrichs; U.S. Attorney's Office; San Antonio, TX, for United States of America
- Stan Smith Ph.D.; Economics; Chicago, IL called by: Clayton Diedrichs
- David Musselman M.D.; Cardiology; Dallas, TX called by: Clayton Diedrichs
- John Porter M.D.; Physical Rehabilitation; Phoenix, AZ called by: Clayton Diedrichs
- Ruth Rimmer Ph.D.; Life Care Planning; Phoenix, AZ called by: Clayton Diedrichs
- Jaime Lopez M.D.; Neurology; Stanford, CA called by: Clayton Diedrichs
On Jan. 26, 2010, plaintiff Darryl Richardson, 47, a security guard, was admitted to the Audie L. Murphy Veterans Affairs hospital in San Antonio and diagnosed with congestive heart failure. On Feb. 4, he experienced a cardiac arrest while using a bathroom down the hall from his room. He was resuscitated but sustained brain damage.
Richardson's wife, on behalf of her husband and their two minor children, sued the federal government for medical malpractice. Plaintiff's counsel argued that the bathroom floor in Richardson's room was covered in urine, causing him to leave for the hall bathroom.
Plaintiffs' counsel argued that Richardson's sister, who was visiting with other family members, saw the emergency help light flashing over the bathroom door and called for help, but that it took approximately 25 minutes to locate a key to open the door and assist Richards, and another 10 minutes passed before epinephrine was administered.
The plaintiffs' medical experts gave the opinion that the delay was the cause of Richardson's brain damage. Plaintiffs' counsel argued that the hospital breached the standard of care by failing to provide Richardson with a clean restroom in his room; failing to properly monitor his condition; failing to provide him with portable oxygen for ambulation; and failing to have a readily accessible bathroom key. All of these factors contributed to Richardson's cardiac arrest and subsequent injuries, his family claimed.
Defense counsel disputed treatment was delayed as long as the plaintiffs' claimed, arguing the plaintiffs' timeline was based on the accounts of Richardson's emotionally distressed family members and no documentary evidence existed. Defense counsel noted that Richardson was obese with congestive heart failure, and the defense medical experts gave the opinion that these were the contributing factors to his cardiac arrest and subsequent injuries.
Plaintiffs' counsel argued that Richardson sustained severe permanent brain damage, resulting in serious cognitive, memory and motor control impairment. Richardson can only intermittently communicate or recognize family members. He requires assistance with basic tasks and will require 24-hour care for the remainder of his life. His family sought $4 million for future medical care and an unspecified amount for past and future pain and suffering, physical impairment and lost income.
The defense economics expert disputed the lost-wage claims. The defense life care planning expert maintained that the plaintiffs' claims for Richardson's future medical needs and lifespan were excessive, arguing $2 million was a more reasonable estimate of future medical costs.
The parties settled prior to trial for $2 million.
This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff's counsel. Defense counsel did not respond to the reporter's calls.