A South Carolina woman filed a medical malpractice claim against a variety of medical providers, alleging that a series of errors resulted in an infection that ultimately lead to amputation of both legs, her left elbow, and the fingertips on her right hand. The court ultimately found in favor of the plaintiff, awarding her over $13 million in damages.
The lawsuit was based upon the following claims:
- The hospital's doctors failed to properly diagnose her sepsis
- The hospital's doctors failed to properly order antibiotics
- The hospital's nurses failed to administer antibiotics for several hours after they were ordered
- The hospital's nurses failed to provide sufficient fluids
- The hospital's nurses administered improper medication at improper doses
The plaintiff first arrived at the Aiken Regional Medical Center on December 6, 2012 complaining of a difficulty in breathing, a high heart rate, low oxygen level and a high temperature. The plaintiff was allegedly incorrectly triaged as a level 3 by a hospital nurse. Over the course of the next three days, the hospital staff failed to diagnose sepsis; failed to follow proper sepsis protocols; failed to obtain immediate blood cultures; provided Lasix to an already dehydrated patient; and provided an improper dosage of Norcuron.
Further, the plaintiff alleged that proper medication, vancomycin, was not provided until 14 hours after her arrival at the hospital after being ordered five hours after her arrival. Still, the plaintiff argued that the original order which was five hours after her arrival broke standards in that the medication is required to be given to a patient with her symptoms within one hour.
The improper administration and dosage of medication reduced the flow of blood in the plaintiff's limbs to such an extent that she required the amputation of both of her legs, her left elbow and the tips of her fingers on her right hand. The plaintiff argued at trial that the medication was administered by the hospital's nurses without the recommendation or consent of the doctors.
After hearing arguments at trial, a jury found in favor of the plaintiff, but did not find that the hospital was reckless or wanton in its negligence, thus punitive damages were not awarded. As a result, the total damage award amounted to just over $13 million in economic damages.