The family of Edward P. Harrigan is suing Tobey Hospital and nurse Susan Spaulding for Wareham, Massachusetts medical malpractice and wrongful death. The civil complaint was filed in U.S. District Court in Boston.
The 87-year-old man was treated at the Wareham hospital in 2008. According to the federal lawsuit, even though his electrocardiogram showed a flat line for over two hours because his heart monitor’s battery had run out, no one at the hospital replaced the battery.
Harrigan’s heart then stopped. However, because his monitor had shut down, an alarm didn’t go off so hospital staff did not know he had gone into cardiac arrest. By the time they went back to him, he no longer had a pulse.
According to the family’s Boston medical malpractice complaint, alarm fatigue is what caused Harrigan’s death. This term refers to people becoming desensitized to monitor alarms. One reason for this is that so many “false alarms” happen at hospitals it can be hard to take each one that goes off seriously.
Unfortunately, alarm-related deaths are not uncommon. According to the Food and Drug Administration, some 566 alarm-related deaths occurred in this country alone between 2005 and 2008.
In August 2010, alarm fatigue” was a factor in the death of a patient at Umass Memorial Medical Center. This is the second alarm fatigue-related death to occur at that Worcester hospital in four years.
Some are asking whether medical device manufacturers are doing enough to make sure that the alarms they design sound off in a manner that nurses and other medical staff can’t help but pay attention. If not, then could a medical device maker be held liable for Massachusetts products liability if the company knew that alarm fatigue could pose a problem and didn’t design its product to combat it?
At Hospitals, Patient Alarms Often Ignored, ABC News, September 23, 2011
‘Alarm fatigue’ a factor in 2d death, Boston.com, September 21, 2011
Tobey, nurse sued in patient’s death, SouthCoast Today, September 23, 2011
More Blog Posts:
$7M Boston Medical Malpractice Verdict Awarded in Newborn’s Massachusetts Wrongful Death, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, August 31, 2011
$2.6M Worcester, Massachusetts Medical Malpractice Verdict Awarded to Man Who Ended Up with Surgical Tack Inside His Small Bowel, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, June 23, 2011
Medication Overdose: Boston Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Claims Massachusetts General Hospital Gave 76-Year-Old Woman the Wrong Blood Thinner, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, March 10, 2011
If you or someone you love was injured because of Massachusetts medical malpractice, an experienced Boston injury lawyer can help you explore your legal options.