Fort Lauderdale, FL (Law Firm Newswire) May 28, 2015 - Attorneys represented three plaintiffs on behalf of more than 1,800 patients who were endangered with feasibly contaminated saline from a nurse working at Broward General Medical Center. Between 2004 and 2009, the nurse administered tests in the cardiac stress lab reusing supplies intended for single use.
In 2009, an anonymous tip led to the discovery by the North Broward Hospital District and the nurse was terminated. Yet, as many as 1,850 patients could have been affected in the class action lawsuit. Among them were the plaintiffs, Russell Loland, Betty Westbook and Andrew Frank, who were subjected to testing that exposed them to deadly diseases, including Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
“Imagine having to worry about potentially contracting a life-threatening disease from a simple screening medical test. This settlement helps to compensate these victims for this easily avoidable ordeal,” said David Brill of Brill & Rinaldi, The Law Firm with offices in Weston that represented one of the plaintiffs.
The certified class action case was settled on March 23 for $14 million by Brill, alongside his partner Joseph J. Rinaldi, Jr., co-counsel Jay Cohen, from The Law Office of Jay Cohen, P.A. in Fort Lauderdale, and Craig Downs and William Rieder of The Downs Law Group in Miami. The total equated to $5,000 to $10,000 per class member.
"It was outrageous to find out that you went to a facility to undergo a procedure and that all safeguards and safety precautions that were supposed to be in place were not and to find out one of the most basic principles of safety was violated," Jay Cohen said.
The registered nurse, Qui Lan, admitted to reusing IV bags and intravenous tubing intended for single use with multiple patients. Throughout 2004 to 2009, lab managers and pharmacists at the hospital, who were in charge of distributing the sanitary saline bags, failed to question the nurse’s practice. Hospital protocol should have also notified quality assurance teams that Lan was depleting far fewer supplies than needed for the amount of patients she was managing.
“The systems in place to prevent reuse were overlooked or ignored, and no one thought to oversee the nurse’s actions,” said Cohen.
Upon ascertaining Lan’s actions in October 2009, Broward General Medical Center contacted the exposed patients recommending HIV and hepatitis testing as a safety measure. They additionally proposed testing for the patients’ families as well.
“Though Broward General and its parent Broward Health fought this case for four years, they ultimately could not remedy the fact they failed to use the requisite degree of care, skill, diligence and attention in appropriately supervising their employee,” stated Rieder.
The settlement covers the emotional and economic damages the 1,850 victims endured, along with their family members. Each one tested negative for infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis.
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