Santa Fe County Jury Says Hospital Acted Negligently in Connection With 20-Year-Old’s Death

file0001300605042 morguefile username click.jpgIn mid-December, a Santa Fe jury issued a $2.25 million wrongful death verdict against Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in connection with the death of a young woman in 2008. In Christopherson v. Christus Health, et al., a 20-year-old woman sought emergency medical treatment for stomach pain that was purportedly related to pancreatitis at the Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe. The hospital apparently transferred Mercedes Christopherson to an Albuquerque hospital where she was treated for about one week. Four days after Chistopherson’s release from the Albuquerque hospital, she again sought treatment for severe stomach pain at Christus St. Vincent.

After she returned to Christus St. Vincent, Christopherson was treated with a short course of antibiotics. Although the young woman suffered a fever during her hospital stay, she was reportedly discharged without any further antibiotics treatment after only one week. At the time of her discharge, Christopherson’s oxygen-saturation levels were apparently dangerously low. In addition, the 20-year-old was released despite that she purportedly tested positive for an inter-abdominal infection.

According to the lawsuit, Christopherson was given a prescription for a pain relief patch when she was discharged from Christus St. Vincent. The drug provided through the patch is a narcotic that may depress a patient’s respiratory system. About 18 hours after she was released, Christopherson reportedly became unresponsive. The young woman was taken by ambulance to Christus St. Vincent where she was unfortunately declared brain dead at despite efforts to resuscitate her. Less than two days after her discharge from the medical facility, Christopherson died as an apparent result of septicemia.

Christopherson’s family initially filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Christus St. Vincent in 2009. Although jurors in that case determined the hospital acted negligently, they could not agree whether that negligence actually caused the young woman’s death. In June 2012, a second jury ruled in favor of the hospital. That verdict, however, was overturned as a result of alleged misconduct by a defense attorney for the medical center. In the most recent trial, jurors awarded Christopherson’s family $1 million for her loss of life and issued an award of $1.25 million for her father due to loss of consortium. A representative for Christus St. Vincent has stated the hospital plans to appeal the jury’s verdict.

Please contact the Fine Law Firm if you were hurt or a close family member died as a result of a doctor, nurse, hospital, or other healthcare provider’s negligence anywhere in the State of New Mexico. Our caring Santa Fe County medical malpractice lawyers have more than 100 years of combined experience assisting individuals who were hurt by a medical professional’s negligent act. To schedule a free, confidential case evaluation with a hardworking and committed advocate, give the attorneys at the Fine Law Firm a call at (505) 889-3463 or contact us through our website.

More Blog Posts:

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Additional Resources:

Hospital plans to appeal $2.25 million award in negligence case, by Phaedra Haywood, Santa Fe New Mexican

Photo credit: click, morgueFile