The occurrence of a traumatic brain injury in a traffic accident is devastating; life changes for that person in an instant, often due to circumstances beyond the victim's control. Whether an animal ran out onto the road or another vehicle suddenly collided with the victim without warning, there's usually little that can be done to stop the accident from happening.
But when the brain injury is caused as a result of a hospital or nursing home staff's negligence, it's even harder to accept the victim's fate. Medical errors or lapses in care are inexcusable when the patient expects to be in good hands. The state of California appears to agree, having recently fined the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center $100,000 -- the maximum fine allowable under state law -- for an error that led to the severe brain injury of a patient.
The patient was a vibrant man in his early 80s who was taken to the hospital after a fall at his home. Once admitted to the transitional care neurosurgery unit, he was hooked up to a heart monitor. But somehow the man fell out of his bed and landed facedown on the floor. Nine minutes passed before a nurse discovered him, even though a technician who kept track of the man's monitor signals paged for help as soon as he fell and became disconnected from the monitor. Getting no response, the technician made a second announcement on the overhead page system, right around the time the nurse found him.
The man was eventually revived, but the damage had already been done. His heart had stopped beating while he lay on the floor, causing serious brain damage. He died after his family made the difficult decision to remove him from life support.
Although this man suffered his brain injury in a hospital, such lapses in care too frequently happen at nursing homes and similar facilities. Victims or family members of those who have suffered such a loss should know that they have recourse in the form of a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. When the expectation of care is met with negligence, it's only right that victims and their loved ones receive adequate compensation.
Source: Mercury News, "Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose fined $100,000 for medical error," Sandy Kleffman, Feb. 6, 2013
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