A 54-year-old South Carolina woman obtained a $13.75 million verdict on February 28, 2017 that was rendered by a South Carolina medical malpractice jury that included $10 million in economic damages and $3.75 million for her noneconomic losses as a result of having both of her legs amputated above the knees, her left arm amputated below the elbow, and fingers on her right hand amputated that the jury found by clear and convincing evidence to be due to the defendant hospital’s reckless, willful or wanton conduct.
The woman had been admitted to the defendant hospital during the morning on December 6, 2012 with severe sepsis that developed into septic shock. She had a high respiratory rate of 28, a high heart rate of 155, low oxygenation at 89%, and a high temperature of 103.1 F.
She alleged in her South Carolina medical malpractice lawsuit that she was not seen by a physician for five hours after arriving in the emergency room and that she was not given the proper antibiotics for fourteen hours after she was admitted to the defendant hospital, despite the initial order for antibiotics nine hours earlier and a second order for antibiotics five-and-a-half hours later.
Shortly after midnight, the woman suffered cardiac arrest after which a Code Blue was called and she was resuscitated. After suffering cardiac arrest, her extremities began showing mottling and other signs consistent with ischemia.
According to the plaintiff’s medical malpractice claims, the nurses at the defendant hospital kept administering Levophed to the woman despite her increasing mean arterial blood pressure that was over the recommended range when on Levophed, and then she was provided medication to lower her blood pressure that caused vasoconstriction in all of the woman’s extremities that ultimately led to the amputations.
At trial, the plaintiff’s South Carolina medical malpractice attorneys presented evidence that the woman was given Levophed (norepinephrine), which is a peripheral vasoconstrictor and an inotropic stimulator that is used to treat low blood pressure by constricting blood vessels that results in increased blood pressure.
The manufacturer of Levophed warns, “If LEVOPHED is continuously administered to maintain blood pressure in the absence of blood volume replacement, the following may occur: severe peripheral and visceral vasoconstriction, decreased renal perfusion and urine output, poor systemic blood flow despite “normal” blood pressure, tissue hypoxia, and lactate acidosis.”
The manufacturer further warns under the heading “Adverse Reactions”: “Prolonged administration of any potent vasopressor may result in plasma volume depletion which should be continuously corrected by appropriate fluid and electrolyte replacement therapy. If plasma volumes are not corrected, hypotension may recur when LEVOPHED is discontinued, or blood pressure may be maintained at the risk of severe peripheral and visceral vasoconstriction (e.g., decreased renal perfusion) with diminution in blood flow and tissue perfusion with subsequent tissue hypoxia and lactic acidosis and possible ischemic injury. Gangrene of extremities has been rarely reported.”
If you or a family member suffered serious injury as a result of emergency room negligence in South Carolina or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a local medical malpractice lawyer in your state who may investigate your emergency room medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your family member in a medical malpractice case against the hospital and/or the emergency room physician, if appropriate.
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