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Hospital Settles After Patient’s Fall in Operating Room

The family of an 86-year-old Boston woman who died after she fell from an operating table following hip surgery has settled a wrongful death lawsuit with Boston Medical Center.

The family’s lawyer, Meyer, said the hospital agreed to pay $900,000.

Meyer said the case exposed gaps in operating room procedures and hopefully will prevent future tragedies.

Catherine O’Donnell died Oct. 13, 2007, seven days after she suffered a massive head injury in a fall in the operating room as she was being prepared for transfer to her hospital bed. The fall fractured her skull and caused severe internal bleeding.

Her family filed a wrongful death lawsuit last year, contending that staff in the operating room was too busy and preoccupied and delivered substandard care to O’Donnell, causing her to fall. They also contended that the hospital was insensitive, first informing them that the hip surgery had gone well before telling them of the serious head injury.

O’Donnell broke her hip while turning to get into bed in her first-floor home in Dorchester and was rushed to the emergency room at Boston Medical Center, where doctors determined that her hip was broken and that she would need surgery.

Surgeons repaired her left hip one day later. After the procedure, O’Donnell, who was still under anesthesia and had a breathing tube in her mouth, slipped and fell as medical personnel prepared to transfer her to her hospital bed, according to a joint pretrial memorandum, which lays out the case.

At the time of the accident, O’Donnell was lying on a special surgical table designed for hip surgeries, according to the court document.

The table has boots to immobilize patients’ feet and an opening near the base of the torso that enables doctors to take X-rays. A nurse, identified in the court document as Miller, removed the belt on the surgical table in preparation for moving her.

As Miller walked to the other side of O’Donnell, she saw “the patient slip off the surgical table, and was unable to do anything to prevent the fall,’’ according to the court document.

The state Department of Public Health investigated the case in November 2007, determining that the fall led to O’Donnell’s death, and cited deficiencies in procedure. The hospital’s own analysis found that the operating room staff was busy or preoccupied and that the safety belt’s removal was not verbally communicated, the document said.

If you or a family member has been injured because of the fault of someone else; by negligence, personal injury, slip and fall, car accident, medical malpractice, trucking accident, drunk driving, dangerous drugs, bad product, toxic injury etc then please contact the Fort Worth Texas Medical Malpractice Attorney Dr. Shezad Malik. For a no obligation, free case analysis, please call 817-255-4001 or Contact Me Online.

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