Major D.C. Hospital Agrees to Safety Change in Response to Brain-Injured Patient's Lawsuit

Dec 05, 2012, 15:45 ET from Patrick Malone & Associates, P.C.

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The Washington Hospital Center has agreed to change the way that patients are admitted for brain imaging procedures, in response to a lawsuit by a brain-injured patient whose family says she was left without a doctor for several hours while she was having an undetected stroke after a procedure in the hospital's radiology department.

When Lyn Gross underwent a procedure in June 2003 to treat an aneurysm in her brain, the radiologist who conducted the procedure listed her in the hospital record as being the patient of a neurosurgeon who had no idea who the patient was.  When she showed signs of developing a stroke after the procedure, treatment for the stroke was delayed for several hours because of confusion over who was supposed to be her main doctor.  Mrs. Gross ended up with severe brain damage.  She lives with her husband at their home in Fairfax County, Virginia.

In settling the lawsuit brought on her behalf by her husband Paul Gross, the family asked the hospital as a condition of the settlement to agree that the interventional radiologists who do procedures on patients would not have authority to list another doctor as the "attending physician," unless that doctor knew about the patient in advance and consented to be the patient's doctor.  The hospital agreed to implement a new policy.

Mr. Gross filed a new lawsuit against the hospital this year because the hospital had never confirmed its new policy, and he asked the Superior Court to enforce the settlement.  That prompted a letter from the hospital's chief medical officer (see link below) confirming that the policy has been implemented.

Patrick Malone, the Gross family's attorney, said: "This is good news for patients in the District of Columbia who undergo intricate and dangerous brain interventional procedures performed by radiologists.  These radiologists aren't qualified to direct the care of patients after the procedure when something goes wrong. So it's important to have a clear understanding up front about who is going to be the treating doctor after the procedure."

Here is the letter from the chief medical officer of WHC confirming its institution of the policy:

For more information, contact Patrick Malone:
Patrick A. Malone
Patrick Malone & Associates, P.C.
1111 16th Street N.W.
Suite 400
Washington, D.C. 20036

202-742-1515 (fax)

Mr. Malone is an attorney and author of: The Life You Save: Nine Steps to Finding the Best Medical Care -- and Avoiding the Worst (Da Capo Lifelong Press 2009).

SOURCE Patrick Malone & Associates, P.C.