Lisa Zenzen Baker, 1961-2003


Friday, September 02, 2011

Case over

Hospital settles claim of untreated
intestinal obstruction for $275,000

By David Baker
Posted Sept. 2, 2011

A lawsuit in which it is alleged that a patient at Samaritan Hospital in Troy died in agony because an obstruction in her intestine was not treated has been settled.

According to papers filed in the case, Elizabeth Goebel went to the emergency room at Samaritan with extreme stomach pain. A CT scan was performed, which showed Goebel had a sigmoid volvulus – a twist in the intestine – that was causing an obstruction. The radiologist stated in a deposition that he told an emergency department doctor about the obstruction; the doctor said he was not told.

The legal papers also say that nurses recorded significant drops in Goebel’s blood pressure but did not tell anyone.

According to the documents, Goebel was “screaming and in 10 out of 10 pain.” She was given Demerol but was still in obvious pain.

After being admitted but still in a holding area in the ER at about 3 a.m., Goebel was found with agonal respirations, which often immediately precede death.

A code was called and Goebel was intubated. After 37 minutes, she died.

In a seven-page settlement brief, the plaintiffs cited 29 cases where there had been a settlement or a verdict for pain and suffering. The cases included $240,000 for two to four minutes of pain suffering and 10 seconds of fear of impending death; $500,000 set on appeal for conscious pain and suffering where a person received significant injuries but was only minimally conscious before death; and $1,250,000 for conscious pain and suffering, affirmed on appeal, for a 42-year-old homemaker who was injured by an improper intubation, suffered brain damage, lapsed into a coma and died.

The lawyers for Goebel asked for $350,000 for her pain and suffering; $175,000 for a relative’s financial loss, plus funeral expenses and $50,000 interest.

The claim was settled for $275,000. Of this, $12,925 was for Goebel’s lawyers’ costs and disbursements and $78,018 for their legal fees. The remainder, $184,055, went to Goebel’s estate.

The plaintiff was represented by Patrick J. Higgins of Powers & Santola in Albany. Samaritan Hospital’s lawyer was Debra Young of Thuillez, Ford, Gold, Butler & Young, also in Albany.

A search of the Times Union archives for ‘Elizabeth Goebel’ produced only one result: an obituary, which said she was 74, from Latham, and died suddenly at Samaritan Hospital.