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C. Frank Hilton & Humes J. “Tripp” Franklin, III Received $300,000 Settlement for Client

Doctors failed to diagnose hematoma before performing hip surgery – $300,000 Settlement

Medical Malpractice Verdict – Doctors failed to diagnose hematoma before performing his surgery – $300,000 Settlement
By:  Virginia Lawyers Weekly

This case arose from the death of an 82-year-old woman in the spring of 2011. In March 2011, the decedent fell at her home while she was alone. At mid-day, she was found by her daughter, who came to visit for lunch. It was immediately apparent that the decedent had sustained significant head and facial trauma. The daughter called for emergency medical services and the decedent was transported to a local community hospital. There, she was evaluated in the emergency department and the emergency physician ordered several imaging studies including a CT scan of her head.

The head CT scan was interpreted by the defendant radiologist as showing no acute abnormalities. Unfortunately, the radiologist failed to observe the presence of a subdural hematoma that was between 4.3–4.5 millimeters in depth and 41.1 millimeters long, top to bottom.

The decedent was correctly diagnosed with a hip fracture on the day of the fall. Because the subdural hematoma was not identified, however, she was allowed to undergo surgical repair of the hip fracture the day after the fall. Following the hip surgery, she never regained consciousness. Because she did not progress well following the hip surgery, three days post-fall, a repeat CT scan of the head was done. That CT scan showed a 13 millimeter diameter subdural hematoma so large that it was causing a midline shift of the brain tissue of approximately 11 millimeters.

Because of this, the daughter requested that her mother be transported to a tertiary care center. Repeat head CT scans there confirmed the presence of the large, growing subdural hematoma.

On the advice of physicians at the receiving hospital, the daughter elected to honor her mother’s previously expressed wishes that heroic measures not be undertaken in such a situation. The decedent was transferred to hospice and she expired from complications of the subdural hematoma.