Children awarded $1 Million for Wrongful Death of their Father

Surviving children of Mr. Milton Butterfield have been awarded $1,000,016,000 in a lawsuit against Community Hospital of Long Beach.

Milton Butterfield fell while living independently at home.  After a few days, Mr. Butterfield’s family requested an ambulance take him to the emergency room at Community Hospital of Long Beach (CHLB) due to generalized weakness, back pain and dehydration.  Mr. Butterfield was able to walk to the gurney when the ambulance arrived. He was evaluated in the ER by Dr. Christopher Lai.  After six hours in the ER, over the objection of Mr. Butterfield’s family, Dr. Lai discharged the patient. However, Mr. Butterfields medical condition had deteriorated to the degree that he could no longer walk and in fact had to be drug from the gurney to the wheelchair for discharge. The LBCH nurse conducting the discharge was not the patients nurse and thus did no physical assessment of the patient. Mr. Butterfield was wheeled out to the parking lot where he went into cardiac arrest. According to hospital records there was a five minute delay between the time of the cardiac arrest and the time CPR began due to the need to bring Mr. Butterfield  back into the hospital and get him on a gurney. During that five minute period Mr. Butterfield sustained irreversible brain damage which rendered him a complete invalid. He never regained any meaningful quality of life and died six months later from complications of being permanently bed bound.

Statistically, one out of three adults age 65 and older falls each year. Among older adults (those 65 or older), falls are the leading cause of injury death (1). They are also the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma (2).

How can older adults prevent falls?

Older adults can remain independent and reduce their chances of falling.  They can:

·         Exercise regularly. It is important that the exercises focus on increasing leg strength and improving balance, and that they get more challenging over time. Tai Chi programs are especially good.

·         Ask their doctor or pharmacist to review their medicines—both prescription and over-the counter—to identify medicines that may cause side effects or interactions such as dizziness or drowsiness.

·         Have their eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year and update their eyeglasses to maximize their vision.  Consider getting a pair with single vision distance lenses for some activities such as walking outside.

·         Make their homes safer by reducing tripping hazards, adding grab bars inside and outside the tub or shower and next to the toilet, adding stair railings and improving the lighting in their homes.

To lower their hip fracture risk, older adults can:

·         Get adequate calcium and vitamin D—from food and/or from supplements.

·         Do weight bearing exercise.

·         Get screened and treated for osteoporosis.

(1) Hausdorff JM, Rios DA, Edelber HK. Gait variability and fall risk in community–living older adults: a 1–year prospective study. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 2001;82(8):1050 (2) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.Web–based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [online].   Accessed November 30, 2010.