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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Woman sues city hospital, 2 docs for $5m

CONCORD – A former New Hampshire woman seeks $5 million from St. Joseph Hospital in Nashua and two doctors, claiming doctors there failed to promptly diagnose and treat her bacterial meningitis, leaving her permanently disabled.

Jane Revells, formerly of Milford and now of Jakin, Ga., filed suit Tuesday in U.S. District Court against the hospital and Drs. Peter Row and Eric Hoffman.

The hospital has yet to respond to the suit, and no one there could be reached for comment.

Revells’ lawyer Richard Fradette of Beliveau, Fradette, Doyle & Gallant, PA, in Manchester said the case is one that has merit.

According to Fradette, Revells was an everyday kind of woman who did kitchen designs before falling ill and going to the hospital repeatedly.

“She suffered serious, serious injuries including two strokes,” Fradette said.

According to her suit, Revells went to the hospital’s emergency room on Jan. 10, 2008, after suffering for three days with nausea, vomiting, headache and fever. She was diagnosed with an ear infection and treated accordingly.

Revells returned to the hospital two days later, Jan. 13, as her symptoms had gotten worse, and included hearing loss, altered mental state and difficulties with walking, her suit states. Dr. Row ordered a CT scan, blood and urine testing and a psychological examination, her suit states. Despite test results suggesting something more seriously amiss, her lawsuit states, Row diagnosed Revell with stress and a sinus infection and discharged her.

Revell returned to the hospital Jan. 14, when another doctor concluded she had a viral illness on top of the sinus infection, and gave her another prescription.

She came back again Jan. 15, still worse from fever, nausea, vomiting, gait abnormalities and other symptoms.

On that day, doctors tested her spinal fluid and found Revell was suffering from acute bacterial meningitis, and hypokalemia (low potassium), both life-threatening conditions, her suit states, and a CT scan showed that excessive spinal fluid was building up in her brain (hydrocephalus).

Revell was admitted to the intensive care unit and given intravenous antibiotics, but she continued to decline and was put on a ventilator Jan. 17, her suit states. On Jan. 17, another CT scan showed that she had suffered a stroke, and on Jan. 21, a second MRI showed yet another stroke.

The two strokes left her paralyzed on her left side and unable to swallow, the suit states. Her condition began to stabilize Feb. 9, and she remained hospitalized until April 1, when she was transferred to another “sub-acute” facility for continued therapy.

“As a result of her injuries, even after extensive rehabilitation and prolonged convalescence, Jane cannot walk without the support of a cane, and when she is able to move, she can do so only minimally and at a very slow pace,” Fradette wrote.

“In addition, she has extremely limited use of her left arm, hand, and leg and has fallen multiple times. She requires constant care and is permanently disabled and unable to return to full-time employment as a kitchen designer, a successful livelihood that she enjoyed before her injuries.”

The average hospital payout for a medical malpractice lawsuit is just over $6 million, versus about $2.65 million for a malpractice suit against a doctor, according to a website dedicated to medical malpractice.

Andrew Wolfe can be reached at 594-6410 or awolfe@nashuatelegraph.com.