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Medical error kills hospital employee in Dallas, jury awards family $19.7M


Bad medicine

(NaturalNews) Last month, a medical practice located in Plano, Texas was ordered to pay a costly settlement over the death of one its employees, who a jury determined received negligent care. Katina Clark, of Burleson, Texas, was employed by Acute Surgical Care Specialists LLP for eight years as a surgical technician.

During the summer of 2013, Clark began experiencing numbness in her legs, leading to her admission at Medical Center Arlington where she had worked since 2005.

The staff there diagnosed Clark with Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), a rare but serious autoimmune deficiency that causes the immune system to attack and damage nerve cells.

While the majority of those with GBS recover, the disorder may cause muscle weakness, difficulty breathing, paralysis and sometimes death.

An estimated 3,000 to 6,000 people develop GBS in the U.S. each year

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports the condition may follow respiratory illness, a bacterial infection, the flu or in the days and weeks following vaccination.

While it's unclear whether Clark had recently been vaccinated, it's noteworthy to add that hospital employees in Texas are subjected to mandatory immunizations, including hepatitis B, influenza, MMR, varicella and pneumococcal.

Hospital employees are not permitted exemption to the aforementioned vaccines for any reason.
Reports confirm that Clark was having difficulty breathing as a result of her GBS diagnosis, prompting doctors to insert a breathing tube that was later changed to a tracheostomy tube inserted through an incision in her neck.

"Although Ms. Clark could not speak because of the procedure, she initially was awake and functioning normally otherwise," according to PR Newswire. "Trial evidence showed that the trachea insertion caused Ms. Clark to receive less than half of the air that was intended."

A surgical technician in the care of her employer was robbed of oxygen for 35 minutes

Her doctor reportedly failed to monitor Clark or fix the leak. The breathing tube became dislodged the following morning, causing the surgical technician to go without oxygen for 35 minutes. As result, she suffered severe brain damage.

The medical error left Clark in a "permanent vegetative state" for more than a year until she eventually succumbed to her injuries, leaving behind a doting husband and two year children. Clark spent the remainder of her days at a local nursing home before passing away in January 2015.

Following a two-week trial and just three hours of deliberation, a jury delivered a $19.7 million verdict against Clark's medical care provider, Dr. Jennifer Marye Burris and her employer, Acute Surgical Care Specialists PLLC.

Victim's primary care physician ordered to pay $19.7 million settlement

The ruling was issued on August 31, 2016.

"We are thankful to the jury and the court for their hard work in this case, which ended with the right result," said the deceased's attorney, Chris Hamilton with the Dallas law firm Standly Hamilton.

"No amount of money will bring back Katina, and she never should have died. Our hope is that this verdict will cause other health care professionals to take better care of their patients," he said.

The case is Caden Clark, et al. v. Jennifer Marye Burris, M.D., et al., No. CC-14-06294-C.

Death as a result of hospital error is now the third leading cause of mortality in the U.S. with roughly 250,000 Americans dying each year. Approximately 7.3 million Americans have died from hospital error since the year 2000.

Sources:

PRNewswire.com

PharmaDeathClock.com

CDC.gov

CDC.gov

NPR.org

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