The Becker Law Firm would like to recognize and congratulate partners Michael Becker and Dave Oeschger on their incredible $11 Million policy limits settlement on behalf of a now 53-year old gentleman who suffered permanent and catastrophic brain injury after resident physicians failed to timely and appropriately respond to a code blue for airway compromise due to a rapidly expanding neck hematoma.
At 50-years old, the patient had undergone a single level disc replacement in his neck. Approximately 12-hours into his recovery, the gentleman got up to use the restroom, at which time he informed the nurse that he felt something “pop,” and he was having difficulty breathing. The nurse then visibly saw the patient’s neck beginning to expand, and a code blue was called for this life threatening airway compromise. Per hospital policy, an internal medicine physician on his ICU rotation was the only physician required to respond, and he was unable to properly establish an airway for the patient, despite two attempts at intubation. Following these two failed intubation attempts, and after another resident had come to assist, the attending emergency room physician was finally called, and she was able to quickly establish an airway almost immediately upon her arrival. Unfortunately, it was too late, as the lack of oxygen for such a long period of time had already caused catastrophic brain damage.
As a result of their extraordinary efforts, the Becker team was able to put together a minute-by-minute timeline, establishing the inexcusable delay in providing the proper treatment that could have avoided this devastating outcome.
The gentleman ultimately survived, but he now has significant and permanent neurologic deficits, leaving him confined to a hospital bed for the majority of his day, and he will require continuous nursing and attendant care. The defendant hospital system contended that their policy requiring only resident physicians to respond to a code blue was appropriate, and that the 18-minutes it took to establish an airway was timely and within the standard of care. Proceeds from the settlement will allow the gentleman’s family to provide him with a handicap accessible home, as well as the ongoing care he will require for the rest of his life.