Representative Cases

Patient v. Emergency Room Doctor, Neurologist and Hospital 2013

TCNF partner Cynthia Newton obtained a confidential 7-figure settlement shortly before trial on behalf of a 34-year-old undocumented worker, wife and mother of three, who suffered a stroke which doctors did not diagnose for over 12 hours. After the patient collapsed at home paramedics rushed her to a local emergency room. Within minutes, doctors ordered a CT scan of her head, which was read as negative for stroke. Over the next several hours, the emergency room doctor worked her up for infection, pregnancy and seizure, and did not call a neurologist until the permissible time for giving t-PA (clot busting medication) and surgical clot removal had passed. After they diagnosed the stroke, doctors told the family there was no treatment, requested permission to discontinue life support and asked them to donate her organs. The family declined. Doctors discharged her home with a tracheostomy and grim prognosis. Months later, without medical insurance or other assistance, the patient’s tracheostomy tube was removed and with home therapy she learned again to walk and talk. TCNF counsel argued the initial CT was not dispositive, that doctors should have ordered a follow up CT angiogram and called the consulting neurologist earlier, and that hospital staff delayed obtaining later tests and delivering test results. Defendants argued they met the standard of care because the first CT was negative for stroke and because a stroke is extremely rare in a patient this young. They also argued that given the extent of the stroke, earlier diagnosis would have made no difference in the patient’s outcome. Before filing the medical malpractice suit, TCNF workers’ compensation veteran Chris Frost obtained a 6-figure disputed claims settlement, causally relating the stroke to a workplace accident several days earlier when the patient hit her head on a freezer.

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