We recently settled a case on behalf of a widow, whose husband, a 71-year-old man from Pittsburgh, was killed because of nursing malpractice at a local dialysis clinic. The patient was a long-standing dialysis patient and at the conclusion of one of his regular dialysis treatments, he passed out. Once he passed out, a nurse started an IV infusion of fluids. When inserting the IV, the nurse caused a catheter-related bolus air embolism. The air embolism traveled to his brain and caused a massive and severe stroke. The patient suffered major brain damage because of the stroke. His widow was forced to make the horrific decision to remove life support measures and the patient tragically died soon afterward without ever regaining consciousness.

We demonstrated that the nurse was negligent in failing to control and prevent the introduction of air when the IV was inserted. Catheter induced air embolisms are a very serious and dangerous problem. If air gets introduced into a person’s venous system, it can travel to the heart, lungs or brain resulting in major injuries and such as stroke as occurred in this case, heart attack and even death. The defense argued that this was a known complication and unavoidable risk. However, we demonstrated that since it was a known complication, they should have been aware that it could occur and been more vigilant to ensure that it didn’t occur. In short, heightened awareness of the potential problem should cause you to exercise heightened vigilance to avoid the problem from occurring. The defense recognized that it was unlikely to win at trial and, as a result, approached us about settling the case without the need to engage in protractive litigation. We were able to get the case resolved very favorably and the widow was extremely pleased with how quickly and diligently we were able to secure a settlement on her behalf that allowed her to move forward with dignity and security during her retirement years.