$1,200,000 Settlement for Medical Equipment Failure

Carol represented the estate of a man who had been a patient at a hospital in northern New Jersey. He had developed severe pancreatitis after a procedure known as an ERCP was performed at another hospital. While the patient was in the ICU and dependent upon a ventilator, the hospital experienced a power failure, and this patient’s cardiac monitor and related alarms did not restart when the power was restored. Because the central monitor in the hallways and nurses station did not display his heart rhythm, or sound the audible alarm, neither his nurse nor any other person in the ICU was aware that he suffered a cardiac arrest. When finally discovered, he could not be resuscitated. An engineering inspection revealed that the cord for his alarm had been plugged into an isolation transformer that had tripped off when the power went out, and did not automatically reset itself when the power was restored. Carol obtained an expert whose opinion it was that the way in which the alarms for the ICU had been installed and maintained was improper, and that this alarm ought to have been plugged directly into a red outlet that had emergency power to it. Had it been, the alarms would have been functioning when the client’s heart stopped beating. The case settled for 1.2 million dollars.