(Philadelphia, PA) – Wood Smith Henning & Berman (WSHB) added another success to its trial scorecard for the Pennsylvania office late this evening. In a high stakes medical malpractice case involving one of its hospital clients, an arbitrator rejected outright the claim handing the victory to WSHB’s hospital client. This particular case involved a claim for wrongful death/survival. Led by esteemed trial partner Andy Kessler, WSHB’s legal team achieved an extraordinary outcome for our hospital client, marking a significant milestone in the pursuit of justice.
"In any medical malpractice case, the spotlight is on the healthcare providers who are definitely heroes,” said trial attorney Andy Kessler. Kessler, the managing partner of the Philadelphia office said “I am incredibly proud of our team's exceptional work and thrilled with the outcome. This victory not only vindicates our client, but it also serves as a testament to the dedication and expertise of our legal professionals. We tirelessly fought to challenge the allegations of negligence and establish the truth, ultimately prevailing."
The case centered around a tragic incident where an 83-year-old woman fell out of a gurney while awaiting transfer back to her nursing home in the Emergency Department of our client's hospital. The plaintiff alleged that the hospital had neglected the patient, citing a lack of documented interaction between the nursing staff and the patient over a 70-minute period. Additionally, they contended that the hospital should have provided a dedicated one-to-one sitter. Tragically, the fall resulted in a subdural hematoma, which the plaintiff claimed ultimately led to the patient's demise 70 days later.
Throughout the arbitration proceedings, our legal team demonstrated unparalleled expertise and unwavering commitment to challenging both liability and causation. We effectively showcased that, although a one-to-one sitter was not provided, our hospital's nursing staff diligently followed the hospital’s Fall Reduction Policy by implementing all other applicable fall prevention strategies. Furthermore, we argued that the hospital's policy merely required the nursing staff to "consider a sitter," which they did, and even went above and beyond by proactively contacting their nursing supervisor to request one. Unfortunately, due to staffing limitations, the hospital was unable to fulfill this request, despite exhaustive efforts made to find a sitter both internally and externally. Moreover, we presented compelling testimony from the primary nurse responsible for the patient's care, highlighting her exceptional vigilance in monitoring the patient's well-being, despite the absence of documented evidence.
Kessler further demonstrated that Plaintiff’s liability expert proffered opinions that failed to set forth any national quality standard, state nursing regulation or any other published reference supporting her position that the failure to provide a dedicated sitter was a violation of the standard of care.
Our challenge regarding causation centered around asserting that the patient's death was a result of medical records documenting the progression of pre-existing dementia, a claim fiercely disputed by the patient's family.
In a remarkable turn of events, the arbitrator delivered a resolute verdict, finding our hospital not negligent. This victory underscores the immense skill, unwavering dedication, and exceptional teamwork of our legal professionals.
This triumph extends beyond our client, resonating with the broader community as a powerful testament to the indispensable contributions of hospitals and nurses, particularly in these challenging times. “They are the unsung heroes, tirelessly working to provide the highest standard of care,” said Kessler. “Our client was thrilled at this outcome, sharing that it is difficult to garner favorable rulings in medical malpractice cases within Pennsylvania. Typically, compromise awards are reached, where the healthcare provider is found liable, but the damages awarded are more moderate.”
Prior to the award, plaintiff had a $1.2 million demand on the proverbial table. Our client chose to defend the care provided by its nurses and this award confirms that taking the matter to trial was the proper tact to take.