Chestnut Hill Hospital and staff hit with medical malpractice, wrongful death complaint

Jon Campisi May 9, 2012, 7:04am

The family of a Philadelphia woman who died four days after being admitted to the emergency room at Chestnut Hill Hospital in the northwestern part of the city has filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the agency and the doctors involved with the deceased woman’s care.

Attorney Wayne A. Schaible, of the Philadelphia firm McCann, Schaible & Wall, filed the civil action May 7 at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas on behalf of Sheila Kelly-Parker, who is suing in her capacity as the administrator of the estate of her late mother, Alma M. Kelly.

The defendants named in the lawsuit is Tri-County Emergency Physicians LLC, the Chestnut Hill Hospital Health System, and doctors Mark Bruno and Michael J. Carnathan.

According to the complaint, Kelly was taken to the hospital’s emergency room on April 20, 2011 after complaining of increasing swelling to her tongue, throat and face.

Kelly had taken cardiac medication earlier in the evening, and it is not clear whether that had caused her condition.

The lawsuit claims that hospital staff caused Kelly to sit in the waiting room for a while instead of receiving the treatment she required, namely a securing of her airway.

The suit claims that it should have been evident to any medical provider that Kelly was suffering from angioedema, but nobody diagnosed Kelly’s ailment.

While hospital documentation is incomplete, the emergency room records show that Kelly’s vital signs weren’t taken for quite some time, and that it took equally as long for Kelly to get in to see a physician, the suit states.

By this time, the complaint alleges, Kelly’s symptoms had progressed to the point that she was unable to speak or sign medical authorizations.

“Despite the fact that it was apparent that she was in the midst of a life-threatening situation requiring the immediate securement of an airway so that she did not suffocate, the nurses and physicians simply moved her to a room and failed to promptly prescribe appropriate steroids … to either slow or reverse the airway swelling which was life-threatening,” the lawsuit states.

The complaint faults Bruno and Carnathan for not making the appropriate diagnoses and take immediate steps to reduce Kelly’s swelling.

Staff did eventually attempt to intubate Kelly, the suit states, but to no avail.

The hospital soon summoned a surgeon who lived nearby, and he performed a tracheostomy on Kelly, but the woman ended up suffering an anoxic brain injury that ultimately led to her death in the hospital four days later, the lawsuit claims.

The lawsuit accuses the defendants of negligence for not doing enough to assist Kelly.

The complaint also contains a wrongful death count and a survival action.

The plaintiff demands judgment in excess of $50,000, plus other court relief, for each of the counts listed.

A jury trial has been demanded.


The case ID number is 120500200. 

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