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Summa Health agrees to settle malpractice claim for $10 million

Mental illness is not ordinarily considered a life-threatening condition, but a woman who entered an Akron hospital for treatment of anxiety and depression never left the hospital. Six days after entering the hospital, the woman was dead. The cause of death was not immediately clear, and the woman's husband filed a medical malpractice claim to learn the cause of her death and to recover damages.

The woman's ordeal began when went to an out-patient group therapy conducted at Summa Health System's St. Thomas Hospital. She became nauseous during the therapy session and was admitted to the hospital. However, a fire had damaged the psychiatric ward at St. Thomas, and the woman was moved to Akron City Hospital, also operated by Summa Health Systems.

Two days later, the woman began referring to herself in the third person, began to stumble and became unresponsive. When the woman became combative, the nurses placed her in a leather restraint and administered Zyprexa, an anti-psychotic medicine. She was transferred to the intensive care unit, where the medical staff determined that she was suffering from hypoglycemia. Tests showed that her blood sugar level was 4, a level that is generally fatal. The low blood sugar caused brain swelling. When the family learned that the woman had no hope of survival, they asked that life support be discontinued. The essence of the woman's medical negligence claim was the failure of the staff at Summa to properly medicate her and to perform tests that would have revealed her true medical condition. Summa Health Care acknowledged its fault and agreed to pay the woman's estate $10 million in damages.

Anyone who has suffered an injury or lost a loved one to improper medical treatment may wish to consult an experienced personal injury lawyer. They can provide an evaluation of the facts and an estimate of the likelihood of recovering damages for medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering or, as in this case damages for a wrongful death.

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