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Failure to Monitor Patient on Heparin Leads to Stroke

A Philadelphia jury recently awarded a 57 year old woman $44.1 million in a case against a critical care physician and local hospital after both failed to properly monitor her APTT score following surgery.

The plaintiff underwent surgery at the hospital to remove a noncancerous tumor. Afterwards, hospital health care providers administered Heparin (a blood thinner) to prevent the formation of blood clots. Monitoring for blood clots involve an assessment of a patient's coagulation rate by a test called the activated partial thromboplastin time (APTT). Over the course of the first 6 post operative days, the APTT tests showed that the plaintiff's coagulation rate was moving from the normal range to the high end of normal. The staff stopped the testing. A few days later, the plaintiff suffered a catastrophic brain bleed that rendered her paralyzed in her right leg and on her left side. She is now largely confined to her bed and requires 24-hour care. At trial, plaintiff's experts testified that the APTT testing should have, pursuant to the standard of care, continued to be monitored daily for well beyond 6 days, and that had it been done, health care providers would have realized that her coagulation rate was becoming abnormal and her blood becoming too "thin" thereby depriving the brain and other organs of vital blood/oxygen.

The jury's award took into account that the plaintiff was making approximately $100,000 per year, in addition to the cost of caring for her every day for the remainder of her life. The jury apportioned the liability 65% to the hospital and 35% to the critical care physician.

At STSW, our lawyers have handled a number of cases involving the failure of health care providers to properly monitor and/or prescribe therapeutic anti-coagulants for patients who are undergoing a surgical procedure. This medical negligence / medical mistake can, as in the Philadelphia case, have catastrophic consequences for patients, including causing their death. Our lawyers know that in order to prevail in these cases in the Baltimore and Washington D.C. areas, expert witnesses in the fields of surgery, hematology, and pulmonology must often be retained to successfully prosecute the case and we are well-versed in this arena. If you or a loved one has been victimized by a failure to properly monitor a patient on a blood thinning medication, a failure to properly prescribe a therapeutic blood thinning agent or a failure to properly prophylactically administer an anticoagulant, call our team at (410) 385-2225 for a free consultation.

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