Complex Medical Malpractice Related to Chronic Tracheostomy


Attorney Brett Panter from the Law Firm of Panter, Panter, and Sampedro, P.A. recently handled a complex medical malpractice case. The case involved an elderly man with long-term tracheostomy issues who had what is referred to as a chronic tracheostomy. He was living with the tracheostomy for approximately five years when he developed shortness of breath and bleeding. As a result of these symptoms, he went to a hospital and was initially admitted, placed on a ventilator, and admitted into the ICU with pneumonia.

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Despite his initial presentation, he started to improve and was transferred to what is referred to as a telemetry unit, where he was no longer ventilator dependent. He made good progress and plans were in the works for him to be discharged from the hospital.

Unfortunately, shortly before he was supposed to be discharged, he was transferred backinto the ICU for continuing symptoms. The staff at the hospital had difficulties with the tracheostomy and even though he was seen by respiratory therapists and various nurses, the
difficulties proceeded with the tracheostomy.

At bedside, the trach became dislodged and that caused what is referred to as a code blue which is an emergency at the hospital. The trach came out and after about nine minutes, the patient became bradycardic and CPR was started for about five minutes and during that time no cardiac rhythm was documented. An emergency room doctor came into the code setting and was able to insert another tracheostomy, but it was 13 minutes after the initial airway was lost. Unfortunately, as a result of this inadequate ventilation, he suffered anoxic encephalopathy and was ultimately admitted to hospice and died a few weeks later. He passed away on the day after his 49th wedding anniversary. During his hospitalization, his loving wife would spend her entire day by his side.

This patient prior to the hospitalization received all of his tracheostomy care from his family, including his wife for approximately five years.

Brett Panter was able to argue that the patient was living with this chronic condition but for the inadequate tracheostomy care at the hospital, he would have continued to live for some period of time with a reasonable quality-of-life at home with his family with his tracheostomy. The defense argued that this man was extremely sick and they listed all of his comorbidities. Despite all the comorbidities, Attorney Brett Panter took the position that plaintiff had years of reasonably good life left. This case was litigated extensively, many experts were retained by both sides, and the costs were significant for both sides. After a second mediation, the case was resolved. Pursuant to a confidentiality agreement the terms and amount of the settlement cannot be revealed.

This is one of many examples of the complex medical malpractice cases that Brett Panter and his law firm handles representing the sick and injured people who also deserve a right to good reasonable medical care.

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