Jury Awards Compensation for an Injury due to a Tracheostomy

A jury in Pennsylvania has awarded a plaintiff $2.78 million compensation for an injury due to a tracheostomy after a hearing at the Delaware County Court.

Bonnie Semple (56) was taken to the Crozer-Chester Medical Center in March 2009 after being injured in an auto accident. Bonnie was unconscious but underwent surgery for internal bleeding and a lacerated liver, during which time she was intubated.

After recovering from her surgery, Bonnie was diagnosed with swelling in her airways. She was prescribed steroids, but when the swelling failed to respond to medication the original tube used for the intubation was replaced with a smaller one so that Bonnie could breathe more easily.

Bonnie was discharged from the medical center in mid-April, but returned in early May with an infestion in her neck and chest. Her doctors found that her airway had collapsed and a review of her condition by a surgeon at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania noted that Bonnie had a “high tracheostomy”.

Reconstruction surgery to rebuild Bonnie´s larynx and trachea was unsuccessful and Bonnie will have to breathe through a tube for the rest of her life. Bonnie can only speak by using a special valve attached to the tube and her reliance on the breathing apparatus has prevented her from being as active as she previously was, and made it dangerous for her to be around water.

Bonnie claimed compensation for an injury due to a tracheostomy against the Crozer-Chester Medical Center and the surgeon who performed the tracheostomy – Dr. Muhammad Budeir. Both defendants denied the allegations, arguing that the tracheostomy had been performed correctly and that Bonnie´s infection had developed as the result of non-compliance with her home care regimen.

It was also argued that, due to being morbidly obese, Bonnie´s “short, thick neck” had prevented her from being weaned from the original endotracheal tube; however, at the Delaware County Court in Pennsylvania, a jury found in Bonnie´s favor – awarding her $2.78 million compensation for an injury due to a tracheostomy.