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Feeding Tube Placement Error

$110,000 – Medical Malpractice/Negligence

Facts

An 89-year-old died when a feeding tube was connected to the catheter intended for his veins. Feeding material was pumped directly into his bloodstream.

Decedent JWP was admitted to Sharp Knowlwood Convalescent Hospital. During the course of his stay, the decedent had a jejunal feeding tube inserted in his left lower abdomen and a Groshong catheter inserted into his left subclavian vein on his left upper chest. Eight days later, the feeding tube intended to be inserted into his left lower abdomen was inserted into the Groshong catheter in his left upper chest. The feeding tube was connected to a bag containing feeding material, including osmolyte and Kana Banana which were intended for the decedent’s gastrointestinal tract. The feeding tube was also connected to a pump which pumped the feeding materials through the feeding tube. By the time the mistake was discovered, only one-quarter of the materials remained in the bag. The balance of the feeding materials was pumped into the decedent’s bloodstream. Within eleven hours, he died. However, neither the decedent’s treating physician, defendant Richard Rowen, M.D., who had knowledge of what actually occurred, nor Sharp Hospital, told the plaintiffs about the sequence of events leading up to the decedent’s death. Additionally, Dr. Rowen signed a death certificate listing aspiration pneumonia, as the cause of his death and failed to make any reference to the feeding tube being connected to his subclavian catheter. Dr. Rowen also failed to notify the coroner and told the hospital that the situation was not a “coroner’s case.”

Allegations/Contentions

Plaintiffs contended that the defendants were negligent in allowing the feeding tube to be attached to the decedent’s subclavian catheter, and claimed this error was the cause of his death. The plaintiffs also contended that the defendants breached their fiduciary duty to them by failing to inform them of what had occurred.

Defendants contended that the incident did not cause decedent’s death and that there was no breach of fiduciary duty to him. Richard Rowen, M.D., contended that he was told that the hospital would notify the family. He also contended that the hospital regulations required the hospital to notify the coroner.

Injuries/Damages

The family suffered emotional distress. Funeral and burial expenses totaled $1,500.

Special Notes

The plaintiffs demanded $85,000 per C.C.P. §998 as to Sharp Hospital and $45,000 per C.C.P. §998 as to Richard Rowen, M.D. The plaintiffs settled for $110,000.


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