Medical staff needs to be responsive to the individual needs of their patients. A failure to abide by protocol or review a patient's medical history can often lead to devastating results.
Though this did not occur in Pennsylvania, the death of a woman due to medical staff failing to account for particular allergies could easily have occurred anywhere. A nursing staff's failure to note a possible latex allergy on the assessment forms or place an allergy sticker on the patient's chart may have led a jury to conclude that medical malpractice existed. The failure to then notify the physician of the risk of allergic reaction may have exasperated the situation.
Shortly following surgery, the woman went into anaphylactic shock as a result of her allergy. Emergency physicians attempted to intubate the woman, but she never regained consciousness. She was only 29-years old.
A jury awarded the woman's husband $4.7 million. Though there may have been many factors that led to the woman's death, it appears that the medical staff's failure to follow medical procedures that ultimately led to her death.
Every member of a hospital's staff needs to follow safety procedures to prevent this type of malpractice from occurring. Ultimately, the hospital itself must make sure that all protocol is followed. When such protocol is not followed and a patient is injured or dies, such hospitals need to be held accountable in a court of law by injured patients and their attorneys.
A 29-year old woman should not die following routine surgery. Hopefully, such a large jury verdict will motivate hospitals to never make this type of mistake again.
Source: Outpatient Surgery, "Inside $4.7M Fatal Latex Allergy Case," July 10, 2012