Offspring sue Howard hospital over father's death

July 14, 2004|By Lisa Goldberg | Lisa Goldberg,SUN STAFF

The children of a 77-year-old Ellicott City man are suing Howard County General Hospital, claiming the institution's negligence caused their father's premature death.

James M. Wall Sr. was doing well after a minor procedure to fix a problem caused by an earlier surgery but went into cardiac arrest Sept. 15 after a nurse attached a unit of aluminum ammonium sulfate to the intravenous line in his arm, sending the solution directly into his bloodstream, according to the lawsuit. The solution had been given to him previously through a catheter to flush blood clots from his bladder, according to the lawsuit and the Wall family's lawyer.

Wall, a retired State Farm insurance agent, became sick and died a few hours later, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in Howard Circuit Court yesterday. A state medical examiner ruled Wall's death accidental and said the aluminum blocked the vessels in his lungs, according to a copy of the autopsy report.

The wrongful death lawsuit, which was filed by Wall's six surviving children - a daughter died in 1980 - does not name the nurse but lays blame for Wall's death on Howard County General Hospital.

Wall's doctor had previously prescribed the solution, but once Wall's procedure was complete, as a matter of practice all prior medical orders should have automatically been canceled and the solution removed from the patient's medical cabinet, according to the lawsuit.

The hospital failed to adequately train its staff to remove the solution once it was no longer needed, to make sure the solution was labeled with "warnings adequate to prevent confusion" and to make certain the nurse knew how Wall was to be treated, according to the suit.

Michael J. Baxter, the Baltimore attorney representing the hospital, said its policy is to refrain from commenting on the specifics of pending cases.

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