Charlie Hill Successfully Defends Medical Malpractice Case

Charlie Hill successfully defends a medical malpractice case against a Columbia hospital when it ended abruptly on the second day of trial, with the plaintiff accepting a compromise settlement very favorable to the hospital.  The plaintiff, who had a complex medical history including diabetes and end stage renal disease, was hospitalized for treatment of calcium insufficiency.  His doctor had ordered the intravenous administration of calcium gluconate.  The IV was started successfully, but on the third night of the admission the nurse discovered that the IV had infiltrated, meaning that the fluid was leaking outside of the blood vessel.  Calcium gluconate is a caustic substance, which can cause soft tissue damage if there is a leakage.  The nurse promptly stopped the IV.  The patient was to be discharged the next afternoon.  One of his nurses noticed a blister in the area where the IV had infiltrated, notified the patient’s attending physician, and obtained an order for a consultation with the wound care team.  However, the patient had been given his discharge papers, was anxious to go home, and left the hospital before the wound care nurse arrived.  Over the next several days, the area became worse, and eventually got to the point where the patient had to be re-admitted for surgical removal of necrotic skin.  He was left with a significant scar on his forearm.  The hospital defended the case on the grounds that the IV was properly administered; infiltration is a known risk of IV therapy; the floor nurse took appropriate action when the infiltration was discovered; and the patient should not have complained about an injury when he declined the hospital’s efforts to have the wound evaluated by its specialized team. 

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