A medical malpractice jury in Pennsylvania returned a defense verdict on June 8, 2021 in favor of the defendant drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility that had been sued with regard to the death of a 23-year-old, 316-pound male inpatient who had been admitted for Oxycodone and Xanax addictions. The man died from Torsades de Pointes, which is an abnormal heart rhythm that often causes sudden cardiac death.
During the two-and-a-half week Pennsylvania medical malpractice trial the jury was told that the man had difficulty following instructions and fully participating in his detoxification and rehabilitation program while at the facility during which he claimed to be experiencing various medical problems. The man was transported to a local hospital’s Emergency Department on two occasions during the detoxification program and was sent back to the defendant facility both times with no new treatment instructions and with a general diagnosis of substance abuse.
Three days after his second Emergency Department visit, the man was found unconscious on the floor of his room and died. The man’s parents filed their Pennsylvania medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit against the facility, a psychiatrist at the facility, the facility’s medical director, two Emergency Department physicians, and the hospital where the man was seen.
The defendant hospital settled the medical negligence claims against it before the case was tried for the first time in November 2016. At the close of the parents’ presentation of testimony and evidence during the first trial, the trial judge entered a nonsuit for all of the defendants based on qualified immunity provided by Pennsylvania’s Mental Health Procedures Act. The plaintiffs appealed and the Pennsylvania Superior Court subsequently remanded the case for trial as to the two defendant Emergency Department physicians. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court remanded the case for trial as to the defendant facility and its physicians.
The second Pennsylvania medical malpractice wrongful death trial began on May 25, 2021 and concluded on June 8, 2021 at which time the jury found in favor of all of the defendants after less than two hours of deliberations.
Torsades de Pointes
Torsades de Pointes is a specific form of polymorphic ventricular tachycardia in patients with a long QT interval. It is characterized by rapid, irregular QRS complexes, which appear to be twisting around the electrocardiogram (ECG) baseline. This arrhythmia may cease spontaneously or degenerate into ventricular fibrillation. It causes significant hemodynamic compromise and often death. Diagnosis is by ECG. Treatment is with IV magnesium, measures to shorten the QT interval, and direct-current defibrillation when ventricular fibrillation is precipitated.
If you or a loved one may have been harmed as a result of substance abuse malpractice in Pennsylvania or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a Pennsylvania medical malpractice lawyer who may investigate your substance abuse medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a substance abuse medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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