Power settles $3.8 million wrongful death case against hospital and staff
The suit alleged the hospital and its staff was negligent in placing Sutherland’s tube in his right lung, failing to notice the misplacement, feeding him despite the misplacement and failing to timely stop the feedings.
Feeding tube in lung nets $3.8M deal
By Lauraann Wood
The estate of a man who died after a doctor inserted a feeding tube into one of his lungs has settled its wrongful-death suit for $3.8 million.
The two-part agreement was finalized last week in plaintiff Teresa Sutherland and special administrator Kimberly Stefanek’s suit, which alleged Advocate Christ Medical Center and its staff failed to notice a physician incorrectly placed a feeding tube in Glenn Sutherland’s right lung before they began feeding him, causing his death in June 2010.
Sutherland, then a 61-year-old interstate truck driver from Arkansas, visited the Oak Lawn hospital after he fell about 15 feet while securing plastic pipes on his flatbed trailer at Allied Tube & Conduit Co. in Harvey.
Sutherland hit his head, face, shoulder and chest in the fall. He was immediately admitted into the hospital’s trauma unit, and an evaluation revealed he suffered a non-life-threatening orthopedic injuries as well as some bleeding underneath the lining of his brain.
“If this was a subdural, they would just drill a little bur hole and the blood would ooze out, and that would be the end of it,” said John M. Power, a partner at Cogan & Power, P.C. who represented the plaintiffs. “But it was actually inside the lining, or intracerebral, so they can’t really go in and drain it, so they have to watch it.”
Physicians gave Sutherland pain, anti-swelling and anti-seizure medication for the bleeding. They also sedated him so the injury could heal without getting agitated, Power said.
After his sedation, Power said, Sutherland underwent a CT scan of his head, which indicated he would be OK through the night. Physicians then ordered Sutherland to receive a nose-to-stomach feeding tube so they could maintain his nutrition while he was sedated.
A second CT scan the following morning revealed a minor change in Sutherland’s brain, Power said, but physicians ordered he receive a second feeding tube, called a dobhoff, for his nutritional needs.
Sutherland’s attending doctor wanted to ensure the tube was correctly inserted before feeding began that afternoon, Power said, so he asked Dr. Glenn Henrickson to confirm its location on Sutherland’s chest X-ray.
Power said the physician asked the right question, but the mix-up came when nurses ordered Henrickson to confirm the nasogastric tube’s placement instead of the dobhoff’s placement.
“So Doctor Henrickson was looking for an NG tube, and he found it in the stomach, which is the same one that was there the day before,” Power said. “Unfortunately, he didn’t look for a dobhoff, and there was a dobhoff on the actual X-ray, but it was curled up and went into the base of the right lung.”
After Henrickson reported the feeding tube was correctly placed, Power said, Sutherland received continuous feeding for several hours before nurses noticed his oxygen saturation began decreasing and he was aspirating through his tracheal air tube.
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