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Court upholds $4.7 million ruling in wrongful death suit

People expect Florida hospitals, doctors and nurses to take appropriate precautions to keep a patient safe and healthy when they are undergoing surgery. When a medical professional fails to comply with these protocols, innocent patients can suffer a wrongful death as a result of this negligence.

Recently, an appeals court upheld a jury's decision to award more than $4 million to a woman's estate after she died as a result of hospital negligence. Now, more than 10 years after the tragic incident, the husband who filed the lawsuit and the rest of her family can begin to move forward.

The woman was initially admitted to the hospital for a hysterectomy and vulvectomy in 2000. In the hours that followed the surgery, the woman's husband claims she suffered nausea, blisters and redness. The morning after her surgery, she went into anaphylactic shock and stopped breathing. She never regained consciousness and was taken off her ventilator four days later.

The wrongful death lawsuit claims that the nurses involved made a number of serious errors that led to her death. They failed to properly identify the woman's increased risk of an allergy to latex based on her allergy to chestnuts, which had been identified earlier that week. Because they failed to properly test her for a latex allergy, they also neglected to notify several parties that used latex around her during her time at the hospital, including the physician.

Ultimately, a jury found that the physician who performed the procedure was not responsible for the death. However, the hospital was found liable through the nurses' gross negligence. An appeals court recently upheld their verdict.

While there is no amount of money that can replace a loved one, it is the hope that pursuing compensation against a negligent party will give families financial support in moving forward. Additionally, it may spark procedural changes and improvements in a hospital that can prevent the same negligence from being repeated.

Source: Outpatient Surgery, "Inside $4.7M Fatal Latex Allergy Case," July 10, 2012

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