Not guilty after patient falls while hallucinating during delirium tremors.
Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois
Counsel: Patricia J. Barker
Outcome: Not Guilty
Patient presented to defendant hospital for an evaluation of four seizure-like episodes that he had experienced the day before in Florida. Patient had flown by himself from Florida to the hospital, and was alert and orientated at the time of the emergency room visit. Patient initially denied any alcohol, tobacco or drug use but his wife eventually informed one of the physicians that the patient was an alcoholic who previously drank half of a gallon of vodka per day. Patient also had a history of cancer. He continued to deny any alcohol use. Patient was given alcohol withdrawal medication and anticonvulsant medication in the emergency room, and was admitted to the hospital for further workup for the seizures, possible alcohol withdrawal syndrome, and possible brain metastasis. Hours after being admitted, but within minutes after patient’s wife left the hospital, he began hallucinating and experienced a fall, causing a fractured hip with open reduction internal fixation surgery.
Plaintiff alleged negligence in that the hospital through its nurses and residents failed to adequately medicate patient for alcohol withdrawal; failed to properly monitor the patient for alcohol withdrawal and fall prevention. The Defense contended that the hospital personnel properly identified the possible alcohol withdrawal; asserted he was properly medicated and treated given his alert and oriented presentations; and that, given his history, it was proper to admit him for further workup for possible brain metastasis as well as potential alcohol withdrawal.