A 42-year-old mother of five went to a local New Jersey hospital in 2004 with a low sodium level (hyponatremia) that was a chronic condition for her. The treatment rendered by the hospital resulted in the rapid increase in her sodium levels over the period of 14 hours, allegedly leading to severe and permanent brain injuries that left her with limited ability to speak, inability to read a book or follow a television program, and requiring her to live in an assisted living facility.
It is well-known in the medical community that the quick rise of sodium levels in the body can lead to a condition known as central pontine myelinolysis, which is also known as osmotic demyelination syndrome. Central pontine myelinolysis is a brain cell dysfunction that is caused by the destruction of the myelin sheath that covers nerve cells of the brainstem (pons). When the myelin sheath is damaged or destroyed, the proper transmittal of nerve cell signals is affected and results in the diminished ability of nerve cells to communicate with other cells. There is no known cure and the nerve damage is usually long-lasting and may result in serious disability. Physical therapy may help relieve some of the symptoms in weakened arms and legs.
In the New Jersey medical malpractice case, the woman alleged that her condition should have been treated by a slow saline solution infusion over time. Instead, the hospital infused her too rapidly, leading to her suffering osmotic demyelination syndrome.
Her medical malpractice case lasted three and a half weeks before a jury returned a substantial verdict in her favor in mid-July, 2011. The hospital critical care physician who treated the woman was found by the jury to be 60% at fault and a nurse to be 40% at fault. The hospital claimed that the woman’s condition was due to encephalitis.
Hospitals are a hot-bed of potential medical errors and medical mistakes. Because so many people in different medical fields and different medical departments within the hospital may be responsible for portions of a patient’s medical care, timely and appropriate care, communication, and cooperation among them are necessary in order to provide required medical care to hospital patients. If any link in the hospital chain of medical care is broken or weak, then patients may suffer and a bad (or worse) medical outcome may result.
If the medical treatment you received in the hospital was below the required standard of care, you may have the basis for a medical malpractice claim to compensate you for your resulting injuries and losses.
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