$385,000 Settlement for Improper Nursing Care

Blume Donnelly partner Mitchell Makowicz represented a 55-year-old mechanic who had fallen. In the hospital’s emergency room, he was diagnosed with rib fractures and discharged with pain medication. The next day he developed respiratory difficulties and was brought back to the hospital where he was diagnosed with 2 collapsed lungs, requiring heavy sedation, intubation and mechanical ventilation. Pursuant to an unwritten nursing practice in that hospital, both of the man’s arms were placed in shoulder-to-wrist immobilizers. Although it was claimed this was necessary to prevent him from removing his breathing tube, in light of his heavy sedation, there was no evidence that he would have, or even could have removed the tube. After eight days, it was found that he had developed pressure ulcers on both elbows, a very unusual location for such wounds, and clearly related to the immobilizers. The ulcers caused ulnar nerve damage in both arms. After this incident, the hospital specifically changed its written policies to prohibit the use of immobilizers in this manner. Our client went on to require nerve transposition surgery in both arms, which was of minimal benefit. He has been left with weakness in the fingers of both hands and with neuropathic numbness and pain in both hands, all of which are permanent. He can no longer continue his employment as a mechanic. Mitch settled this case just prior to trial.