Law Office of James I. Devine

Firm Success Stories

Anesthesia Negligence (Settlement)

A medical malpractice case Jim Devine handled involved a female, teenage patient. By way of brief background, about four years earlier, the patient, then age 14, was a pedestrian who was hit by a car, and the patient sustained several injuries. One of the injuries the patient sustained was a right shoulder fracture and dislocation, resulting in nerve injury rendering the patient’s right arm and hand almost useless.

A few years later, the patient’s orthopedic physician formed a plan to try to provide functional use of the patient’s right arm and hand, which involved surgery. Later that year, the patient presented to the hospital for right open shoulder release surgery. While the patient was still in the operating room, the anesthesiologist attempted an intrascalene anesthetic block injection to control the patient’s post-operative pain. The intrascalene muscles are located near the patient’s spine in the region of the neck. However, the injection was apparently placed directly into the spine, not the intended injection location. The patient was then transferred to another hospital because of breathing problems she developed as a consequence of the misplaced anesthetic block.

The patient developed progressively worsening problems in the weeks following the procedure and was transferred to an emergency room where an MRI reported hydrocephalus (an accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid within the brain) and related abnormalities. Because of severe headaches and other disabling problems, the patient was unable to attend college as had been planned. She was also unable to work regular hours. Her right arm problems persisted because she was unable to follow through with the therapy and anticipated future surgeries. On behalf of the patient, Jim Devine argued that because of the improperly placed anesthetic block, the patient sustained injuries that will cause pain, suffering and disability for the rest of the patient’s life. The defendants argued that their care was reasonable and met appropriate standards. All of the parties had experts in support of their position. Shortly after the jury was selected, the case was settled and Jim Devine’s client received significant monetary compensation for the injuries she suffered.

Brain Injury And Death Due To Doctor/Hospital Negligence (Settlement)

Another case Jim Devine handled was a medical malpractice example involving a male patient in his early sixties with a prior history of a stroke who presented to the hospital with difficulty breathing. He was diagnosed with pneumonia. The patient was thereafter placed on a respirator because of declining oxygen saturation levels. Respirator ventilation required placement of an endotracheal tube orally through the mouth and vocal cords and into the patient’s trachea with the extruding end connected to the ventilation source. The tube was then replaced because it had developed a cuff leak. The patient underwent a thoracotomy surgical procedure with an evacuation of a fluid collection near one of his lungs. The next day, a nurse noted a leak in the endotracheal tube and notified the covering anesthesiologist about the problem. The anesthesiologist decided to reintubate the patient. After removing the existing tube, despite vigorous attempts, the doctor was unable to insert a new tube into the trachea. The anesthesiologist then called aloud for the surgeon to be paged “stat” to perform an emergency tracheostomy. The surgical resident responded to the page. The resident had never before performed an unsupervised tracheostomy and did not have the necessary equipment because the hospital inexplicably did not have it available. The resident decided to perform a different procedure to try to establish an airway for the patient. Eventually, the surgical resident was able to establish a temporary airway.

The ENT resident physician was then called to place the necessary trach tube. The ENT resident arrived but determined that he wanted an ENT attending physician to handle this difficult situation. Instead of waiting for an ENT attending physician to undertake the care of the patient, the anesthesiologist attempted to orally intubate the patient while the ENT resident slowly withdrew the trach tube placed by the surgical resident. The trach tube was completely withdrawn and the anesthesiologist was unable to insert the endotracheal tube. The patient’s airway was lost and he was not receiving oxygen. The ENT resident physician requested a scalpel to create another incision through the trachea to establish an airway for the patient, but no scalpel was available. The resident used a blade for the incision which caused the patient to lose several units of blood. The patient became pulseless and a code was called. The patient was resuscitated. The patient suffered significant brain injury and died two weeks later.

On behalf of the patient, Jim Devine argued that the patient died as a result of anoxic brain injury caused by a series of careless and neglectful events, including the carelessness and conduct of the doctors and the hospital concerning the management of his airway and the unavailability of standard hospital equipment. The defendants argued that their care was reasonable and met appropriate standards. Both sides obtained supportive experts. Shortly before the scheduled start of trial, the case was settled and the spouse and estate of the decedent received significant compensation for the avoidable death of their husband and father.

Premises Liability – Improper Ventilation (Settlement)

The female, young adult client presented to her place of employment in May. She was a store manager at an indoor mall. She went to work early before opening the store for business. Her place of employment was adjacent to another business that was being remodeled. On that day, unbeknownst to the client, a contractor was using a propane powered concrete cutting saw to perform concrete cutting work. Propane powered concrete cutting saws emit carbon monoxide during operation. Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that is odorless, yet harmful and possibly even deadly when inhaled. The mall where the client’s place of employment was located prohibited these saws because of their health dangers. When used indoors, fans or other types of effective ventilation must be set up to prevent harm from carbon monoxide poisoning to persons in the area.

The client was unknowingly inhaling carbon monoxide as the concrete cutting proceeded. Mall employees instructed the concrete cutters to stop using the equipment, after the mall employees discovered the use of the saw. However, the mall employees and the concrete cutters failed to take obvious, necessary steps to protect individuals in the area. No one warned the client of the known carbon monoxide danger and no one properly ventilated the fumes. Shortly after noon, after being overcome by carbon monoxide fumes, the client passed out, fell down, hitting her head, and suffered a concussion. Carbon monoxide levels were obtained in the client’s place of employment and extremely high readings were discovered. The client was given hyperbaric chamber treatment, where oxygen under high pressure is administered in an attempt to clear the carbon monoxide from the blood.

Unfortunately, following the incident, the client suffered from persistent headaches and nosebleeds. The client was also diagnosed as suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). On behalf of the client, Jim Devine argued that the contractors operated the propane saw without the necessary ventilation and that the mall employees failed to properly warn the mall employees of the known risks and dangers of carbon monoxide fumes and failed to initiate ventilation. The defendants argued their conduct was reasonable and met appropriate standards. Both sides obtained supportive experts. The case was ultimately settled and Jim Devine’s client received significant monetary compensation for the harm and injury she had suffered.

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