Transplant Recipient Dies from Infected Donor Organ: $6 Million Settlement
Medical Malpractice Settlement Report, 2021
By Nicholas D. Cappiello, Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Suffolk County Superior Court - General Negligence Claim
Failure of organ clinical coordinator to communicate positive test results for parasitic infection to patient's transplant team caused a devastating delay in the diagnosis and treatment of his donor-derived organ infection
The patient was a 73-year-old man (decedent) who died from septic shock secondary to a parasitic infection transmitted during lung transplant surgery. His past medical history included idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, end stage lung disease, hypertension, diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, spinal stenosis, high cholesterol, arthritis, and coronary artery disease.
On 6/1/14, decedent underwent a right lung transplant. The lung donor was from a region of the world endemic for Strongyloides, a parasitic infection. The patient agreed to accept the high-risk organ with assurance that he would receive any necessary treatment if post-transplant testing on the donor returned positive
On 6/7/14, defendant organ clinical coordinator received blood test results showing donor was positive for Strongyloides. The results were uploaded to DonorNet, an online database for the transplant community; however, defendant failed to directly communicate the test results to decedent’s transplant team
From 6/7/14 through 7/28/14, the test results were unknown to the decedent and his transplant team. On 6/10/14, defendant Quality Systems Specialist performed a review of the lung donor’s file, including the Strongyloides results. However, defendant incorrectly certified that all test results had been reported
In mid-July, decedent was re-admitted to the hospital with a DVT and infection of unknown etiology. Decedent underwent extensive testing over the next two weeks as his condition declined
On 7/20/14, defendant Quality Systems Specialist performed a final review of the lung donor’s file, including the Strongyloides results. However, defendant incorrectly certified that all test results had been reported and that the final QA was complete.
By 7/28/14, decedent was intubated and on life support in the ICU when he was finally diagnosed. He was treated with Ivermectin, an anti-parasitic medication, but the infection was too widespread by that time.
On 8/7/14, decedent died from the Strongyloides infection. Plaintiff’s alleged that defendants’ failure to communicate the positive Strongyloides test results to decedent’s transplant team caused a devastating delay in the diagnosis and treatment of his donor-derived infection. Had the results been timely communicated, decedent would have been successfully treated with Ivermectin and would not have suffered a premature and preventable death
The defendants maintained that by uploading the results to DonorNet the results were available to decedent’s transplant team and that any alleged reporting errors were attributable to systemic processes of a non-profit entity subject to the statutory damages cap and not to individually-named defendants. Defendants further maintained that, at baseline, decedent had a very limited life expectancy due to his underlying health.
This negligence case was settled for $6 million.
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