Attorneys Carol Nelson Shepherd and Patricia M. Giordano represented a 38-year-old divorced father of two young children who was initially seen by defendant oral surgeon for an abscessed tooth, which had resulted in severe pain, swelling of the face and neck, and inability fully to open his mouth. Attorneys Shepherd and Giordano contended that given the severity of his symptoms, the defendant oral surgeon should have ordered a CT scan to assess the magnitude of the problem, and further, should have admitted him to the hospital for institution of I.V. antibiotics and close monitoring given the potential for compromise of his airway. Instead, he was advised merely to return in a week for extraction of the affected tooth.
By that very evening, plaintiff’s condition worsened to include also fever and chills for which he presented to the defendant hospital E.R. Defendant E.R. physician also failed to order or have performed a CT scan and, instead, merely admitted him to the defendant hospital under the care of defendant hospitalist. Defendant hospitalist, suffering from a significant lack of knowledge, experience, and training with regard to severe soft tissue infections of the face and neck secondary to a dental abscess, also failed to order or perform a CT, failed to appreciate the risk of respiratory compromise, and failed to admit plaintiff to a monitored floor for that reason.
Instead, the following afternoon, on a routine nursing check, the plaintiff was discovered blue and not breathing. Despite resuscitation, plaintiff suffered severe hypoxic injury to his brain requiring two years of hospitalization, rehabilitation, and nursing home care, and resulting in permanent spastic quadriparesis requiring him largely to be confined to a wheelchair and with significant difficulties with speech and activities of daily living.
The case was settled for the sum of $4.5 million following jury selection and opening statements.
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