$2.85 Million Settlement for Sepsis Death

Death of ventilator-dependent man due to unrecognized sepsis during pulmonary rehab

2023 Medical Malpractice Settlement Report
By Adam R. Satin, Attorney for plaintiff

Case background

The decedent was a 25-year old male with a significant cardiac history including rheumatic fever with consequent rheumatic heart disease, heart valve replacements and aortic root replacement. In 2012, he required further cardiac surgery. His surgery was complicated by respiratory failure, ARDS and infection. He was also treated for C-Diff Colitis based on substantial diarrhea in the setting of having received antibiotics. The patient was ventilator dependent for several weeks and eventually transitioned to requiring the vent only at night. The patient had experienced significant muscle atrophy and weight loss during the approximately 3-month hospitalization.

Patient transfered to pulmonary rehab

The decedent was eventually cleared to be discharged to a long-term pulmonary rehabilitation facility. He arrived alert and oriented. The next morning, however, his lab studies revealed an elevated white blood count and his oxygen saturation had dropped to the 50s to 60s requiring intervention. He had a CXR that raised a question of pneumonia and he was noted to have been increasingly agitated. The morning nurse documented that he had not made any urine during her shift. The defendants were the morning nurse and the attending doctor.

Lawsuit claimed failure to recognize sepsis

The plaintiff claimed that they failed to recognize that these were signs and symptoms of sepsis and that the delay in recognition of his condition led to a failure to treat it in a timely manner with IV antibiotics and transfer to tertiary care.

The defendant doctor claimed that the decedent’s condition was entirely consistent with his baseline after having been so dramatically compromised for months following the surgery. The nurse claimed that the information about the decedent’s condition was all readily available to the doctor and that she had no responsibility for diagnosis of his condition. However, on cross-examination, the doctor was forced to concede that the nurse had not apprised her of several hours without urine production, which she testified was below the standard of care expected of the nurse.

The defense also tried to claim that the death was from C-Diff, not pneumonia as alleged by plaintiff and it would take 12 hours of antibiotics at a minimum to prevent death from C-Diff and that, even with earlier diagnosis, there was not sufficient time to prevent plaintiff’s death. However, plaintiff’s counsel illustrated the lack of any clinical evidence of active C-Diff at rehab and plaintiff’s expert opined that signs of it on autopsy were merely present because of the prior episode of it after the surgery.

The parties settled for $2,850,000.00 during trial on the last day of evidence.

Lubin & Meyer medical malpractice attorneys Andrew C. Meyer, Jr., and Adam R. Satin and Griffen Rose represented the plaintiff in this case.

Questions about a failure to recognize and treat sepsis?

Do you have questions about a possible medical malpractice claim related to a failure to diagnose sepsis?

Contact Us - There is no fee or cost to you to have your case evaluated by our medical malpractice lawyers. Please call 617-720-4447 to speak with our medical team today.

Lubin & Meyer PC - Boston’s Innovative Leader in Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Law

Our medical malpractice lawyers are licensed to practice in: Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.

Return to: Verdicts & Settlements case archive

Return to: Lubin & Meyer home page