York County Jury Awards $6 Million in Wrongful Death Case

The family of a 53-year-old woman who died after surgery won a $6 million jury verdict in York County in a recent wrongful death case against the medical team that treated her.

In what is believed to be the largest York County jury award in several years, the jury ruled in favor of the family of the victim, 53-year-old Sherrie Ann Burkhardt, who died Dec. 19, 2007, two days after she underwent emergency surgery at York Hospital, according to a story in The York Daily Record.

Burkhardt, of Seven Valleys, Pa., had been admitted to the hospital complaining of chest pains.

After she arrived at the hospital, a surgeon examined her and performed a cardiac catheterization on the patient, according to a story in The Legal Intelligencer.  The examination found that Burkhardt’s right heart artery was almost completely obstructed and required three stents.

Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/babyblueut

Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/babyblueut

Complications began after the patient was moved to the hospital’s medical surgical intensive care unit following the surgery, according to The Legal Intelligencer.  During court testimony, one of the doctors on Burkhardt’s medical team said he told another doctor about observing abnormal abdominal bleeding in the patient after the surgery.  The other doctor, however, testified that he was “only made aware of a transient drop in blood pressure and would have ordered all the proper tests had he known Burkhardt’s full list of symptoms.”

That poor communication between the doctors was a key part of the Burkhardt family’s case against the medical team and the hospital. “The complaint alleged her death was the post-surgery result of a lack of communication and violation of patient safety rules by doctors at York Hospital and Cardiac Diagnostic Associates,” reported The York Daily Record.

Ultimately, that meant that the victim didn’t receive adequate care following the surgery.

In a pre-trial memorandum, the Burckhardt family alleged that neither doctor “continued to inform any cardiologist, as had been ordered, about the drop in blood pressure and increase in heart rate, nor did they advise of the hallmark symptoms of bleeding, back pain, abdominal pain, distension and tenderness, gray skin pallor, anxiety, agitation and labored respirations,” according to The Legal Intelligencer. “Either way, all the symptoms the plaintiff pled as hallmark signs of internal bleeding were documented in Sherrie Burkhardt’s medical records only 10 minutes after she arrived in the intensive care unit and three hours before she coded and went into cardiac arrest.”

The Burkhardt family was awarded $5 million for wrongful death and $1 million for any treatment injuries that Burkhardt suffered before she died, according to the paper.

This tragic case illustrates the dangers and risks that patients can face when undergoing medical procedures in emergencies. Split-second decisions made by doctors, nurses and other medical staff members can have huge and instant negative impacts on patients when they are most vulnerable during medical emergencies. And poor communication about patients and their ongoing treatment among medical team members can be devastating, and deadly.

That’s why if you or a family member is ever involved in such a situation you should get the best legal advice you can find to learn your legal options so you can recover damages for your injuries and suffering.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or a loved one is ever seriously injured in a medical malpractice or related case anywhere in the United States. We represent the families of victims who die in such tragedies as well, to ensure that their families receive every penny of damages that they are eligible to receive.

Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-227-2727 or toll-free at 1-866-920-0352 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.

When Winning Matters Most, Call MyPhillyLawyer.