Painter Law Firm recently filed a medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit against Christus St. Elizabeth Hospital, in Beaumont, Texas. The Jefferson County District Clerk assigned the case a cause number B-203726, in the 60th District Court, where The Hon. Justin Sanderson is the presiding judge. You can read the original petition here.
Christus St. Elizabeth Hospital is a 431-bed acute care hospital located at 2830 Calder Avenue, Beaumont, Texas 77702.
The case involves care that was provided to a man in his 40s who was involved in a car wreck in July 2018. He went to the emergency room (ER) and, fortunately, even though the airbag was deployed, he didn’t suffer any head trauma. He was treated for injuries including a fractured pelvis and some internal bleeding, but nothing was life-threatening.
He was admitted to the trauma intensive care unit (ICU) and stabilized over the next two days. Then he developed a fever of 101 degrees and had critically-elevated lactate levels. Even though these are clear signs of infection and sepsis, the trauma surgeons who were handling his critical care, David Parkus, M.D. and Eric Wooten, D.O., didn’t order any cultures to investigate the source the infection or order any additional antibiotics.
The next afternoon, nurses recorded that he had a fever of 101.6 degrees. Dr. Parkus and Dr. Wooten did not do any cultures or additional antibiotics then, either. The next day, a chest x-ray suggested pulmonary edema and/or pneumonia in both lungs, and his oxygen levels plummeted to the point that he went into severe Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). Again, all of the signs pointed to sepsis, but Dr. Parkus and Dr. Wooten did in order any cultures or new antibiotics.
Sadly, the patient died just one week after his car wreck.
As part of our thorough investigation and workup of this case, we hired a board-certified critical care physician to review the care that was provided. The expert shared his opinion that this gentleman didn’t die from his injuries from the accident. Instead, he died from avoidable injuries in the hospital. In the health industry, they call these iatrogenic or hospital-acquired injuries.
Specifically, our medical expert was critical of Dr. Parkus and Dr. Wooten for failing to recognize the clear, textbook signs of infection and sepsis. They should’ve immediately ordered cultures and started him on broad-spectrum antibiotics, covering both types of bacteria, including gram-positive and gram-negative bugs.
When this young patient died, someone wrote in the medical records “possible sepsis” and “DO NOT APPROACH THE FAMILY” about organ donation. The autopsy showed that yes, in fact, this patient had infection. In fact, the bacteria causing it was something he also caught in the hospital, Serratia marcescens.
In our critical care expert’s opinion, this man in his 40s would’ve survived and fully recovered from his car accident injuries if Dr. Parkus and Dr. Wooten had treated his hospital-acquired infection appropriately. Instead, a sad Beaumont family is still grieving at the loss of their loved one.