As Published In
Settlement: Xxxxxx Orozco, indiv. and as Adm. of the Est. of Xxxxxxxx Orozco v. NYCHHC XXXXX/92
Date of Settlement: 4/1/97
Venue: Queens Supreme
Plaintiff Attorney: Eric Turkewitz and Charles Silverstein, Manhattan
This medical malpractice action settled during trial for $400,000, plus the waiver of hospital bills. The 56-year-old decedent presented to the emergency room at Elmhurst Hospital on 1/19/92 after falling down a flight of stairs. She was diagnosed with a fractured clavicle, and a routine chest X-ray revealed a diaphragmatic hernia, where the spleen and parts of the liver, stomach, and bowel had herniated from the abdominal cavity toward the thoracic cavity. It was unknown if the hernia was pre-existing or was caused by decedent’s fall. Repair surgery was scheduled for 1/23/92. No CAT scans were performed prior to surgery. A type and cross match of blood was ordered.
During the operation, there was a sudden drop in blood pressure, and the spleen was found to be ruptured. Doctors removed the spleen, decedent was stabilized, and another type and cross match of blood was performed. Fifty minutes later, there was a second drop in blood pressure, this time to 50/30. The liver was found to be lacerated (an autopsy showed a 2-3 centimeter laceration). Thirty minutes after the liver laceration, three units of blood were given. Decedent’s condition deteriorated, however, and she developed uncontrolled bleeding and died.
Plaintiff argued that it was malpractice not to perform a CAT scan before surgery to determine any injuries, and contended that the surgeons were negligent for causing the spleen and liver to rupture and lacerate. Plaintiff also would have contended that decedent’s blood was not properly typed and cross-matched prior to surgery, as evidenced by the typing and cross-matching during surgery, the delay in giving blood, and the evidence that some units of universal blood instead of type-specific blood were given.
Defendant contended that decedent suffered severe internal injuries in her fall, that blood was typed and cross-matched before surgery, as evidenced by the use of some type-specific blood during the procedure, and that it was medical judgment when to give the blood. Defendant was unable to state how the liver laceration occurred.
Decedent, a 56-year-old Colombian immigrant employed in the garment industry as a seamstress, was survived by a husband and eight children, the youngest of whom was 17 years old at her death. She also cared for one of her grandchildren.
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