Nurse, a patient, claims malpractice in pain control by ER staff. Defense. San Diego County.


Pain shooting down the leg sends an RN to the emergency room. She goes into PEA arrest after pain meds.

The Case

  • Case Name: Doe Patient v. Roe Hospital and Roe Medical Group
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Friday, February 08, 2019
  • Type of Case: Medical Malpractice
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Neutral arbitrator from JAMS.
  • Type of Result: Arbitration Award

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: Defense award.
  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 7 days.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    The Law Offices of Robert Vaage by Robert F. Vaage and Elizabeth Teixeira, San Diego.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Davis, Grass, Goldstein & Finlay by Vincent J. Iuliano, San Diego.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Kenneth Corre, M.D., emergency medicine, Los Angeles.

    Carol Hyland, life care planning, Lafayette.

    Michael Nakada, Ph.D., economics, San Diego.

    Lester Zackler, M.D., neuropsychiatry, Sherman Oaks.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Miles Shaw, M.D., emergency medicine, San Pedro.

    Debbie Bird, R.N., emergency medicine - nursing.

    Heather Xitco, MBA, economics, San Diego.

    Marc Norman, Ph.D., neuropsychology, San Diego.

    Roger Thrush, Ph.D., vocational rehabilitation, La Mesa.

    Reg Gibbs, M.S., life care planning, Billings, MT.

    Thomas Hemmen, M.D., neurology, La Jolla.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Claimant was a 61-year-old registered nurse who presented to the Respondents’ Emergency Department  (ED) on July 2, 2017, for severe right hip pain shooting down her leg. Claimant required 16 mg of IV morphine and 7 mg of IV Dilaudid to control her severe pain over 3 1/2 hours. Claimant was not noted to have any side effects from the medication administered. Claimant’s pain was then reduced sufficiently for her to be discharged home to have an outpatient MRI to evaluate the cause of her pain. 

    Approximately two minutes after the ED provider discussed discharge with the patient, the ED nurse entered the room to review discharge instructions with the patient and to administer oral pain medication and found the patient in PEA (Pulseless electrical activity) arrest. Claimant was promptly resuscitated, intubated and transferred to the ICU. She was extubated the following day and discharged from the hospital a day later. 

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Claimant asserted medical negligence regarding the emergency care, including orders of excess narcotic pain medication by the Emergency Department physician, the delivery of pain medication by the Emergency Department nursing staff and the alleged failure to properly monitor the patient while on medication. Claimant also contended negligence in the resuscitation of the claimant. Claimant requested damages in the amount of $2,200,000 at trial. 

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Respondents contended that none of the care and treatment rendered to the claimant in the Emergency Room fell below the standard of care.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Claimant alleged that as a result of an overdose of opioids in the ED, she suffered a PEA arrest leading to alleged physical, neurological, cognitive and psychological damages. Claimant alleged that she could no longer work as a nurse due to her alleged injuries and that she had intended to work an additional ten years, and that she required medication and therapy for PTSD as a result of the incident.

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: $750,000
  • Plaintiff Demand during Trial: $750,000
  • Defendant §998 Offer: None.