Va. woman sues St. Mary's Medical Center for father's death

By Kyla Asbury | Feb 24, 2011

HUNTINGTON -- A Burke, Va., woman is suing St. Mary's Medical Center after she claims it is responsible for her father's death.

On Dec. 14, 2008, Elmer A. Pritchett was taken to Jackson General Hospital's emergency room with complaints of blurred vision, slurred speech and unsteady gait, according to a complaint filed Feb. 11 in Cabell Circuit Court.

Pritchett was later transported to St. Joseph's Hospital for further evaluation and then sent home with instructions to follow up with his physician, which he did on Dec. 16, 2008, and was transported back to Jackson General Hospital because of worsening symptoms, according to the suit.

Lori O'Connor, Pritchett's daughter, claims her father was later transferred to St. Mary's Medical Center so that a neurological evaluation could be performed during his hospitalization.

Because of concern that he might be suffering from a strike, Pritchett's assessment provided that he be followed closely and monitored with "the expertise that St. Mary's provides to patients with its state of the art stroke center," according to the suit.

O'Connor claims during her father's evaluation at St. Mary's, his treatment by nurses was "inconsistent and unprofessional."

On Dec. 20, 2008, Pritchett was found down on the floor in his hospital room in PEA arrest with his telemetry module removed, where he had been for an undetermined amount of time,according to the suit.

O'Connor claims her father was discovered and orally intubated and a left subclaven triple lumen catheter was placed during the resuscitative efforts. She claims on further evaluation, Pritchett's pupils were dilated but did not react to light.

On Dec. 21, 2008, an electroencephalography indicated "diffuse hypoxic/anaoxic cerebral brain damage," according to the suit.

On Dec. 27, 2008, O'Connor claims she and the family withdrew life support from him because the hospital could not detect any brain activity.

O'Connor claims the hospital failed to document, assess and re-assess her father in a timely manner prior to finding him on the floor of the hospital room.

The defendant's negligence and carelessness contributed substantially in causing serious injuries to Pritchett, which led to his death, according to the suit.

O'Connor is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. She is being represented by Mark W. Browning.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge F. Jane Hustead.

Cabell Circuit Court case number: 11-C-68

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