In December 2006, Krissy Myatt went to the emergency room at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins with an intense headache and “dangerously” high blood pressure. She had been receiving treatment for multiple sclerosis, including strong doses of steroids, which can cause high blood pressure.
The doctor misdiagnosed her brain bleed as a migraine, gave her pain medicine and sent her home. She woke up the next morning paralyzed. The hemorrhagic stroke she had suffered devastated her family and led to the largest jury-verdict award in Larimer County history: $3.9 million.
In patients with Hemorrhagic stroke (intrcerebral bleed) bleeding within the brain occurs leading to an elevation of intracranial pressure which if not relieved will lead to, as here, severe brain damage. In some cases brain herniation may occur leading to patient death. A sudden severe headache is a classic sign if an intracerabral bleed. The cause of the bleed is not given. The appropriate treatment depends on the specific cause. At the very least a CT Scan should have been taken which would have been diagnostic of the bleed. It is an emergent situation requiring a lowering of intracerebral pressure. Depending on the cause surgery may be required. In other cases an intraventricular peritoneal shunt may be needed to drain fluid from the brain.
Practice Tip: In many hospitals, as was the case here, the emergency room physician will not be employed by the hospital but by a private medical group which contracts with the hospital. Whenever a plaintiff’s attorney has this type of case the emergency doctor must be checked to see if he is employed by a group. If so the group as well as the physician should be named as defendants and it should be alleged in the complaint that the physician was employed by the group and the hospital contracted with the group.
Should you need sample pleadings in this type of case in New York contact the medical malpractice attorneys at Gair, Gair, Conason, Rubinowitz, Bloom, Hershenhorn, Steigman & Mackauf.