Sally Nantala* was a young mother and only 23 years old when she began to complain to her family of frequent headaches. After repeated medical investigations and diagnostic testing, doctors determined Sally had a growth close to her brain that was causing the headaches. After discussing it with her family, Sally decided to have surgery to remove the benign tumor. Surgeons at the University of Miami successfully removed the benign tumor.
Consequently, Sally’s headaches were a thing of the past. Because of an unfortunate side effect of the surgery, Sally would suffer from epileptic type seizures for the rest of her life.
Five years later, Sally met the love of her life. Ignacio courted Sally for the next 22 months until he convinced her to elope and get married. After a romantic wedding with only their most intimate friends and family, they began a new life together. It was difficult for Sally to hold down a job because of her seizures. Sally, unfortunately, also battled mental illness which plagued her family. Nonetheless, Ignacio was ready, willing, and able to work as hard as possible to provide for their family. Ignacio and Sally settled down in South Florida to raise their family. In addition to Sally’s two children from a previous relationship, they had two children of their own.
Sally would continue to fight her mental illness and periodic seizures. She was prescribed Keppra. However, she found it difficult to have those prescriptions filled when she lost her health insurance. Fifteen years after her initial surgery, Sally was at home on the evening of July 21, 2018 when she suffered a seizure. The approximately 30 second seizure was witnessed by Sally’s family. She was rushed to a local hospital in South Florida, where her past medical history for epilepsy and bipolar disorder were documented.
Upon arrival at the emergency department, she was treated by the emergency room doctor who noted her history. That doctor even documented the fact that Sally had been unable to continue taking Keppra “due to problems with insurance.” Doctors admitted Sally to the telemetry unit and ordered a CT of her brain, lab work, and other diagnostic testing. In addition, they ordered a neurological consultation. While waiting in the emergency room, Sally experienced another seizure, this one witnessed by the nursing staff.
Unfortunately, the attending physician failed to give much importance to her condition and relied upon the consulting neurologist. The following morning, a neurologist provided to the hospital by an outside healthcare staffing company, reviewed Sally’s chart and conducted a quick examination. Critically, the neurologist dismissed Sally’s episodes of seizures and identified them as an episode caused by her psychiatric condition.
Approximately three hours later, Sally suffered another seizure and was found unresponsive on the floor. Nurses called a code rescue and tried to resuscitate her. Meanwhile, Ignacio and Sally’s children had just returned to the hospital to visit Sally. Upon arriving at Sally’s hospital room, they were horrified to find a team of physicians surrounding Sally and attempting various lifesaving procedures. Despite efforts to save Sally, she passed away at the age of 41.
Diagnostic results confirmed that Sally was experiencing epileptic seizures when she passed.
Ignacio came to David Sampedro from Panter, Panter & Sampedro to find what happened to his wife of 16 years and the mother of their children. David investigated the case, contacting experts in internal medicine and neurology. David served notices of intent to file a lawsuit upon the attending physicians, neurologist, and hospital. After conducting pre-suit discovery, as required under Chapter 766 of the Florida Statutes which governs cases for medical malpractice, the prospective defendants requested to mediate the case.
David was able to convince the attorneys and insurance carriers for the prospective defendants that their respective clients failed to recognize Sally’s high risk for seizures and respiratory compromise. He was able to explain that their failure to recognize and properly diagnose and treat Sally contributed to her death. At the conclusion of pre-suit, David was able to resolve the matter for the sum of $2 million.
While Ignacio and his family would trade all the money in the world to have Sally back, Ignacio has been able to use the settlement funds to provide some safety and stability for his family and purchase their first home. He has also used the funds to purchase a fund to pay for their children’s future educational needs.
*The party’s names have been changed to protect their identity.