The patient was admitted to the hospital and had surgery to correct a misalignment of his jaw.
Hypertension Noted in PACU
In the post-anesthesia recovery unit the patient needed Apresoline, a short-acting anti-hypertensive used to treat hypertensive crises, in two doses two hours apart.
He received no further antihypertensive medication the next twenty-nine hours in the hospital's surgical intensive care unit before he was discharged.
History of Hypertension
The court record mentioned without elaboration that the patient had a history of hypertension before entering the hospital for this surgery.
Patient Hemorrhaged, Died Shortly After Leaving Hospital
The physician signed a discharge order shortly after 5:00 p.m. for the patient to leave at 5:30. The patient did not actually go until 6:30 p.m. because of a mix-up locating his keys and wallet.
Ten minutes after leaving the hospital, however, in the car on the way home, he began bleeding profusely from his mouth. His wife drove him back to an office building on the hospital campus and paramedics were called. They were unable to save him.
The autopsy established the cause of death as asphyxia from hemorrhage into his airway. The Court of Appeal of Louisiana pointed out the autopsy revealed no problem with how the surgery was done.
The jury returned a verdict for the widow and children for $1,834,914.31 based entirely on the negligence of the nurse involved in his discharge.
The nurse took vital signs at 5:00 p.m. in anticipation of the patient's imminent discharge from the hospital.
The patient's blood pressure was 179/88, pulse 72 and respirations 16.
According to the court, the...