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Latex allergy turns routine surgery into wrongful death

A jury recently awarded $4 million to the estate of a woman in a medical malpractice lawsuit alleging hospital and staff negligence. The woman's estate claimed that hospital nurses failed to notify staff of the woman's latex allergy, resulting in her wrongful death.

The woman was admitted to the hospital for a routine surgery. The nurse that prepared the woman's assessment form testified that the woman didn't specify a known latex allergy. For that reason, the nurse testified that she didn't follow the hospital's latex allergy procedures or alert surgery staff of the woman's risk for an allergic reaction. As a result, the woman was likely exposed to latex through staff wearing latex gloves, both during her surgery, and possibly by food servers wearing latex gloves.

After her surgery, the woman complained of itching, blisters and redness of the face, and nausea. Although nurses administered medication to alleviate her itching, nausea and vomiting, the woman's condition continued to worsen. When she began making gasping and gurgling sounds, the woman's husband testified that he contacted hospital staff. However, the woman lost consciousness and had to be put on a ventilator. She never regained consciousness and died 4 days later.

If the woman's allergy had been properly detected, hospital staff would have taken several precautions, including noting the woman's allergy on an assessment form, placing an allergy sticker on her chart, placing signage on her door, and notifying staff and physicians of the woman's risk for an allergic reaction.

The tragedy in this case is that the woman's death was avoidable. If you or a loved one was injured because hospital staff failed to provide a proper standard of care, an attorney can advise you of possible recoveries.

Source: Outpatient Surgery, "Inside $4.7M Fatal Latex Allergy Case," July 10, 2012

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