Medical Malpractice following a motorcycle accident rendered Raul Otero, a 20 year old, a quadriplegic. Otero had survived a bad motorcycle accident — doctors amputated his left leg above the knee and removed his spleen. However, due to a medication error,
Raul ‘s life is now spent in bed or specially designed wheelchairs because his brain was so badly damaged that he cannot walk, speak, or follow simple commands.
As reported by the Sun Sentinel, the malpractice occurred in April 2003 at Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood. Following the motorcycle accident, Otero was alert and preparing to be released to a rehab center when hospital staff took him for an MRI.
Otero became agitated, and a doctor gave telephone orders for a powerful drug, in a dosage that “was sufficient to paralyze the patient completely, making him unable to move or breathe on his own,” according to state records.
The drug, in combination with other medications Otero had been given at Memorial, caused his heart to stop beating normally.
“I heard, ‘Code Blue, MRI’ and I began running and screaming, ‘Something happened to my son!’ ” recalls Otero’s mother, Ana Delgado. “A nurse told me that his heart stopped, and they revived him. He was in a coma.”
Otero was left a quadriplegic. He had just turned 20. His mother gave up her job as a hairstylist to be a full-time caretaker, and her marriage to Otero’s father crumbled under the strain of their son’s tragedy, ending in divorce, she said.
Otero is incontinent and can only eat food that is liquified in a blender. He responds to familiar voices with his eyes and can laugh, but his only other verbal communication is an occasional moan.
With the help of a Medical Malpractice Attorney, Proceeds from a multiple-defendant lawsuit help pay for Otero’s care.
Lawton Tang, the doctor who ordered the medication and his employer, Mt. Sinai Medical Center, settled for $2 million.
The South Broward Hospital District, which owns Memorial Regional, agreed to a $2.2 million settlement.
The district uses Otero’s case “as a teaching tool … to improve care,” said spokeswoman Kerting Baldwin. It also has incorporated more patient safety procedures, such as bar code technology on patient ID bracelets that alerts staff to risks and side effects of medications, she said.
This was a tragic case with a tragic result. Telephone orders are common practice in a hospital setting. The protocol is such that a nurse informs the doctor about the patient’s medical history and current condition. The doctor will then give an order(s) which the nurse writes down and reads back to the doctor. In this case, either the doctor either gave the wrong order, the nurse wrote the wrong order, or the person that administered the medication gave the wrong amount.
Medication errors are simply inexcusable. It is these types of preventable errors that lead to shattered life’s and significant Medical Malpractice Claims.