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Improper Treatment of Patient with Elevated Blood Pressure Results in Permanent Brain Damage

More than $17.25 Million Awarded in Medical Malpractice Verdict

Medical professional taking patient blood pressure

Mrs. M experienced an uncomplicated pregnancy, labor and delivery for the birth of her first child, a healthy son. Days later, Mrs. M was taken to a local hospital where she was evaluated for a possible seizure. She was then transferred to a larger hospital for further treatment where she was admitted. Her blood pressure was running in the range of 180/100 mm Hg, and she also complained of visual disturbances and headache. Her symptom constellation suggested a diagnosis of eclampsia, so she was started on intravenous magnesium and she also received several intravenous boluses of the anti-hypertensive agent, Hydralazine.

Within hours of arriving at Hospital Mrs. M was seen and examined by a neurology consultant who correctly listed PRES (Posterior Reversible Encephalopathy Syndrome) as the most likely diagnosis in the patient’s case. The symptoms from this syndrome, when treated properly, are totally reversible. In other words, with appropriate treatment, patients with PRES do not suffer from neurologic damage. Mrs. M was not properly treated during her hospital stay and was discharged without any hypertensive medication. Mrs. M was again taken to the Emergency Department with symptoms of a hypertensive emergency and was again admitted to a non-critical care unit and no frequent BP monitoring was performed.

In this case, Mrs. M should never have been sent home without anti-hypertensive medications. Further, at discharge Mrs. M’s blood pressures were rising and should have been treated at that time. Instead, she was sent home with confusing and vague instructions. Neither she nor her husband were educated about the condition, nor were they educated on how to accurately monitor blood pressures at home. Equally important, she was never educated on what to do if any neurologic symptoms recurred. The improper treatment of Mrs. M’s elevated blood pressures caused her to suffer irreversible ischemic damage to her brain, which has resulted in severe, substantial, and permanent morbidity. The case proceeded to a bench trial in Washington County, Pennsylvania where Mrs. M was represented by Rosen & Perry, and a verdict, including delay damages, was entered for $17,263,159.33.