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Family recovers $4.7 million in fatal latex case

A tragic medical malpractice case resulted in the death of a woman when nurses failed to notify physicians of her allergy to latex. The family successfully pursued a wrongful death claim to recover compensation for the death of the 29-year-old victim. Victims and families of latex injury in Connecticut may be able to recover compensation after injury or death.

In July of 2000, the woman underwent a hysterectomy and partial vulvectomy. When she awoke from surgery, she had an allergic reaction with a range of symptoms, including blisters on her lips, itching, nausea and vomiting. Her husband was by her side for the two days after surgery. The morning after her surgery, he heard gurgling sounds and called an emergency physician. She was unable to breathe on her own and was placed on a ventilator. When did not regain consciousness, the family took her off a life support and she was pronounced dead.

Allergies should be considered prior to surgery and when prescribing treatments. In this case, the nurses failed to notify physicians of a patient's latex allergy and did not follow hospital protocols involving latex allergy procedure. The complaint alleged that the victim died of anaphylactic shock as a result of failure to take precautions to avoid a latex allergy reaction.

Hospital protocol required that all patients be assessed for latex allergies upon admission and prior to surgery. Patients are also supposed to be questioned and tested for risk of latex allergy. The victim had noted other allergies that made her at a high risk of latex allergy.

The jury agreed that the nurses were negligent in failing to report the allergy, but exonerated the physicians. The hospital was held liable for the nurse negligence and awarded the beneficiaries $516,000 and the estate $4,175,000 for the wrongful death of the patient.

Source: Outpatient Surgery, "Inside $4.7 Fatal Latex Allergy Case," Mark McGraw, July 10, 2012.

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