A Florida medical malpractice case that went to trial earlier this month and was settled after the parties’ closing arguments to the jury alleged that critical medical records had been altered after surgery in an effort to bolster the defense.
A woman undergoing a hysterectomy in 2011 suffered a stroke as a result of an air embolism that developed during the procedure that traveled to her brain, according to the plaintiff’s Florida medical malpractice lawsuit. The plaintiff alleged that the defendants anesthesiologist and nurse-anesthesiologist negligently failed to recognize the signs of air entering the plaintiff’s veins during the surgery, which led to the stroke that resulted in her partial blindness and the inability of her brain to interpret what she is seeing.
During the surgery the defendants were monitoring the plaintiff’s ETCO2 (end-tidal CO2) that measures the amount of carbon dioxide that remains in the lungs after exhalation. A lower ETCO2 can indicate pulmonary problems that must be promptly addressed.
The plaintiff’s Florida medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that her ETCO2 had fallen to the critically low value of 22 as a result of the embolism traveling to her brain but that the defendants failed to timely and appropriately respond to the urgent situation.
The plaintiff alleged that the defendants altered her medical records after the surgery to change the “22” ETCO2 reading written during the procedure to “32,” and that one of the defendants may have changed the 22 to 32 after the surgery in her mistaken belief that the ETCO2 reading was wrong because the plaintiff did not have other symptoms indicating that she had an air embolism.
The defendants’ attorney reportedly argued to the medical malpractice jury that the plaintiff could suffer a stroke without symptoms of an air embolism, claiming that the plaintiff’s stroke was caused by a blood clot for which the defendants were not responsible. The defense further alleged that the plaintiff’s medical record had not been altered, offering the explanation that the defendant’s poor handwriting under the stress of the situation in real-time during the surgery resulted in the way the entry appeared in the plaintiff’s anesthesia record.
The Florida medical malpractice case was reported to have settled on April 27, 2015.
Source Araujo v. Eisner, CACE13012999.
Medical malpractice lawyers representing both plaintiffs and defendants in medical malpractice cases understand that their cases often live or die based on the entries in the medical records. In other words, jurors often believe the medical records: if the medical records state that something occurred, the jurors will believe that it did; if the medical records do not state that something occurred, then they will believe that it did not occur.
Even though medical records are authored by medical providers who may have an incentive to write inaccurate or incomplete information in patients’ records, and patients are not provided the opportunity to read and correct their medical records before they become part of their permanent record, jurors often defer to what is stated (or not stated) in the records when determining what occurred (or did not occur).
If you or a family member were injured (or worse) as a result of medical negligence in Florida or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a Florida medical malpractice lawyer (or a medical malpractice lawyer in your state) who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.