$5 Million Settlement for Missing and Misread X-Rays

Blume Donnelly principals John Blume and Carol Forte settled a lawsuit during jury selection against Beth Israel Medical Center and several physicians for $5 million. Their client, now 21 years old, was left blind, in a wheelchair, unable to care for herself, and with a diminished intellectual capacity as a result of delayed and negligent medical treatment at Beth Israel Medical Center.

The young woman, suffering from Crohn’s Disease, appeared at the emergency room at Newark’s Beth Israel Medical Center with complaints of abdominal pain and vomiting. Although X-rays and blood tests were ordered, the X-rays were misread. The next day a radiologist discovered the X-rays actually revealed free air which was a sign of a perforation of the intestine for which the only treatment was surgery. The surgical consultation was not acted upon properly and the young woman was admitted to the hospital adolescent unit where the pediatric residents, not recognizing the seriousness of her condition, failed to properly hydrate her and failed to follow up on the surgical consult request.

Her condition worsened and when one of the pediatric residents looked for the X-rays, he could not find them. The attending physician called a pediatric surgeon directly. New X-rays were ordered which clearly revealed evidence of bowel perforation, as did the earlier ones that had turned up. By the time the surgeon arrived, she had been transferred to a different floor for more intensive care because of her worsening condition. Although it was determined between 6 and 7 p.m that surgery was required, the surgery did not commence until 9:30 p.m. By that time, she went into shock and was not properly hydrated, nor was she given adequate antibiotics. During the surgery, the young woman suffered a cardiac arrest which left her in a coma.