Medical Malpractice Case Report: $4 Million Settlement For Failure to Administer Pre-and Post-Operative Blood Thinners Resulting in Stroke

Firm Partner Chris Messerly achieved a $4 million medical malpractice settlement in a case involving a failure to administer pre-and post-operative blood thinners to a 55-year-old professional woman undergoing aneurysm coiling procedure resulting in stroke. Read the following Minnesota Association for Justice (MAJ) Minnesota Case Report, Volume 29, Number 1, February 2010:

Selected Results*  

(Excerpts taken with permission from Minnesota Association for Justice (MAJ) “Minnesota Case Reports”)

In 2003, Plaintiff's brother had several aneurysms in his brain.  Since cerebral aneurysms are known to be hereditary, Plaintiff underwent testing and discovered that she had five brain aneurysms.  In March 2003, Plaintiff underwent an elective "coil embolization" procedure to repair three of the five aneurysms.  The surgery was performed by the defendant interventional radiologists.

The uneventful procedure in March 2003 was followed by twelve hours of treatment with two IV blood thinners: Integrilin and Heparin.  Plaintiff was also "loaded" with Plavix while in the hospital. (Plavix is a medication that prevents blood cells from sticking together and forming clots.) She was discharged from the hospital the next day with instructions to take Plavix daily for six weeks.  Plaintiff did well following surgery and returned to work.

Plaintiff returned to the hospital for a second elective coiling procedure by defendants in May 2003, for the two remaining aneurysms.  Before surgery, Plaintiff was asked to sign a consent form, which outlined the types of blood thinning medications, including Aspirin, Plavix, and Heparin, that a patient would need to take before, during and after the procedure.  Plaintiff again underwent coiling of the aneurysms, but also had a stent placed in her left internal carotid artery.  During the procedure, Plaintiff was again given blood thinning medications, Heparin and Integrilin.  However, when she left the operating room, these medications were discontinued.

The procedure was completed at about 2:15 PM, and Plaintiff was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). It was not until about 9:00 PM, that Plaintiff was given a 75 mg dose of Plavix.  At that time, she was noted by the nurse to be "alert and oriented."  At 9:30 PM, a nurse recorded that Plaintiff sat up in the bed and looked at her, but was unable to speak.  She stated that Plaintiff could grab the nurse's hand with her right hand and squeeze, but a few seconds later was unable to move her right arm at all.  Plaintiff had suffered a massive stroke as a result of a large blood clot in the vessel where the stent had been placed.

Plaintiff has very little use of the right side of her body, which is mostly paralyzed.  She has severe spasticity in her right arm and leg and she wears braces on the arm and leg.  She also has reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD).  She has a Baclofen pump that was surgically installed to help with the pain.  She can only walk short distances, using a walker or a cane.  She has difficulty understanding the world around her, but she does clearly understand how dramatically her life has changed.  She has expressive aphasia, which means she cannot communicate her needs or wishes to anyone.  She makes her thoughts and needs known by pointing and responding "yes" or "no" as others ask questions to figure out what she's trying to say.  Plaintiff is very isolated.  She spends most of her day in a recliner chair, watching TV. A home care aide comes twice a day for two hours to help her bathe, get dressed, get the brace on her leg and hand, make her meals, remind her to take her medications, and do a few chores.  She has lost her independence and has to rely on others for just about everything. She is depressed.

Plaintiff was a highly-respected corporate professional and she is the mother of two grown sons.  Special damages include past and future loss of wages and pension benefits of $960,521; future life care needs ranging from $6,514,742 to $4,611,651 depending upon several variables; past medical $718,865.