Lisa Zenzen Baker, 1961-2003


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Case over

Hospital settles leg-damage lawsuit

By David Baker
Posted Tuesday March 26, 2013
398 words

A long-running lawsuit previously reported here has resulted in a settlement by Albany Memorial Hospital, while claims against an outside medical group have been dropped and a claim against an anesthesiologist has been dismissed.

The lawsuit was brought by Karen Rogers in 2008.  In it, she claimed that she was left with permanent injuries after nursing staff at Memorial failed to monitor her for a condition called compartment syndrome, in which swelling occurs after surgery or an injury.  Without immediate treatment, it can cause serious damage.

According to the suit, in November 2005 Rogers went to the emergency room at Memorial Hospital after falling from a step ladder, where a physician found two fractures in her right leg.  In an emergency department report, the physician noted that the patient should be evaluated for compartment syndrome.

The next day Rogers underwent surgery for the two fractures, after which the surgeon wrote orders for the pain medication Demerol, and for an elastic stocking and a compression boot to be placed on the left leg, the one that had not been broken.

But, according to the suit, the stocking and the boot were put on the right, injured leg.

The surgeon also ordered checks for symptoms of compartment syndrome to be done every hour overnight.  But no check was done between 11 p.m. and 8 the next morning – which also is a violation of the hospital’s own protocol which requires the checks every four hours.

During the night, Rogers complained of increasing numbness and excruciating pain in her leg – both symptoms of compartment syndrome – but allegedly was told by nursing staff that  “she would have to make do with the pain medication that had already been prescribed.”

The next morning the surgeon examined Rogers and ordered immediate surgery to relieve the pressure.  According to the complaint, this required four, 8-inch incisions and left her partly lame and with permanent scars.

By the time the lawsuit was filed in 2008, the state Health Department had cited Memorial, issuing a ‘statement of deficiencies’ for its care of Rogers.

The lawsuit named two physicians, a medical group and members of its staff.  Claims against all of them were dropped.  A claim against an anesthesiologist and his practice was dismissed by the court.

Albany Memorial Hospital settled the case for an undisclosed sum.

The initial story is HERE