On Tuesday, March 31, 2015, Todd M. Raskin and Cara M. Wright of MRR obtained a defense verdict in a wrongful death medical negligence claim against a certified nurse practitioner who provided medical care and treatment to the Plaintiff’s deceased mother-in-law (decedent) at an area nursing home. The Plaintiff had alleged that the care and treatment provided by the certified nurse practitioner fell below the standard of care and caused his mother-in-law to experience dehydration which resulted in Digoxin toxicity (a condition marked by elevated blood serum levels of a medication utilized to treat atrial fibrillation and other clinical symptoms) and caused her death.
During the seven-day trial, MRR presented evidence that the care provided by the certified nurse practitioner met or exceeded the standard of care. Indeed, the evidence shown at trial demonstrated that the certified nurse practitioner performed physical examinations of the decedent on five separate occasions and responded appropriately to 12 telephone calls or requests for assistance from the RNs and LPNs employed by the nursing home during the decedent’s 13-day stay at the nursing home. Two physicians and an RN/Nursing Home Administrator with a Ph.D. in Health Policy testified that the care provided by the certified nurse practitioner was exemplary and well exceeded the standard of care.
MRR’s Raskin and Wright further produced evidence that demonstrated that the decedent did not die of dehydration or Digoxin toxicity. Instead, the testimony of five expert witnesses, including two of the decedent’s own treating physicians, demonstrated that the decedent died of post-obstructive pneumonia as a result of the decedent’s Stage IV lung cancer. These witnesses consistently testified that, while the decedent had lab values of Digoxin above the recommended therapeutic range, the decedent did not demonstrate any of the signs or symptoms exclusively associated with Digoxin toxicity. Furthermore, the witnesses indicated that her non-specific symptoms (anorexia, nausea, fatigue and weakness) were more likely caused by her recurrent post-obstructive pneumonia, particularly since those symptoms persisted after the antidote for Digoxin toxicity was administered.
Following deliberations, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defense and found that the Plaintiff had failed to meet his burden to prove that the care provided for his deceased mother-in-law by the certified nurse practitioner fell below the applicable standard of care.