The patient was unmarried and had lived with his parents who contacted a plaintiff’s attorney a few months after their son died. The attorney had a medical expert review the records. After her review, the expert opined that the doctor, the hospital, and the nursing staff had all failed the patient and that he had not received the acceptable standard of care required from the clinicians. The plaintiff’s attorney accepted the case.
Dr. P was notified that he was being sued, along with the hospital. He met with the defense attorney who had been provided by his malpractice insurance. During their discussion, Dr. P admitted that he had been unaware of the patient’s blood alcohol level. When the attorney questioned why Dr. P had ordered a sliding amount of hydromorphone (1–2mg every 20 minutes), he replied that he assumed that the nurses would put the appropriate monitors on the patient and would use their judgment in deciding how much hydromorphone to administer based on the patient’s response. The attorney nodded, but didn’t look happy. The next step in the process, said the attorney, was the discovery portion which would involve taking depositions from everyone involved in the incident.
During the depositions, the nurses who were on duty on the night in question testified that Dr. P never ordered monitoring for the patient, and never asked them about the patient’s status prior to the cardiac arrest. Dr. P maintained that he had been unaware of the patient’s blood alcohol level and that he assumed that the nurses were properly monitoring the patient and the drug therapy.
The case eventually settled prior to trial. A $500,000 settlement was agreed upon by the parties.