69-year-old Man Bleeds to Death in ICU When Nurses Fail to Notify Doctors of Signs of Internal Bleeding

A 69-year-old’s death occurred in the ICU unit of a local hospital when the nurses failed to notify the doctors that his stools had turned “dark and tarry,” a sign that the man was suffering from a gastrointestinal bleed.  Plaintiff’s investigation showed that even as the man’s stools showed more and more evidence that he had a G-I bleed, the nurses did not inform the doctors of the observations concerning the stools, even though the nurses knew that the change in the stools was a sign that the patient had an internal bleed.  Finally, almost 18 hours after the initial stool showed evidence of bleeding, the man’s pulse and blood pressure began to fail. Efforts to resuscitate him were only briefly successful.  No attempt to provide him blood was made until a routine blood test was ordered to be performed several hours earlier than usual showed that his blood loss.  By then it was too late.  The man collapsed and died, leaving his adult daughter as his sole surviving heir.

The case settled at mediation.