John Ritter died from a ruptured thoracic aneurysm. His family sued the emergency physicians for allegedly failing to treat him quickly enough.
Now another celebrity is suing emergency physicians. James Woods, brother of deceased Michael J. Woods, is suing a hospital and its emergency physicians for failing to treat Mr. Woods quickly enough.
Michael Woods went to the “fast track” part of the emergency department complaining of nausea and a sore throat. He began “sweating profusely” told doctors that he was having an “anxiety attack.” A doctor in the “fast track” side of the emergency department examined Mr. Woods’ throat and then sent him to the main emergency department when his throat was not inflamed.
When taken to the emergency department, the nurses attempted to give him medications and he stated “Stop doing this, I don’t need all this. This is ridiculous.” Eventually he allowed the medications to be given. An EKG was performed that showed “alarming” changes (that were never fully described in the articles) and cardiac monitoring was ordered, but the rooms with monitors were all full. Mr. Woods was then placed in a hall gurney next to the nurse’s station. Ninety minutes later, Mr. Woods slumped over in his bed and went into cardiac arrest. CPR was performed for nearly a half hour, but he was not able to be resuscitated. A coroner’s report showed that Mr. Woods had severe cardiovascular disease throughout his coronary arteries.
Experts alleged that Mr. Woods should have been placed on a monitored bed immediately and that the failure to do so cost Mr. Woods his life.
From what we are being told, this is just another example of a fallacy being fed to the jurors. There is nothing special about cardiac monitors. They alarm if there is an arrhythmia. They don’t warn medical providers of impending heart attacks or cardiac arrest. By putting Mr. Woods on a monitor, all that would have changed is that the medical staff may have gotten to him 30 seconds earlier when he slumped over in his bed.
From the testimony described, the care that Mr. Woods received was by no means perfect. The law doesn’t require “perfection.” The law requires that medical providers act “reasonably.” How do we quantify “reasonableness” when emergency providers are overwhelmed with patients or when there are not enough supplies available to meet the needs of patients?
What is reasonable in the midst of chaos?
I just hope that jurors keep the “reasonableness” standard in mind when deciding this case.
A link to multiple posts about the Woods trial, being held in Rhode Island, can be found on the Providence Journal site at www.projo.com using this link: