A jury in Montgomery County has ordered Abington Memorial Hospital and Dr. Kristin Crisci to pay $5 million to the surviving family of an 88-year-old man who died after a feeding tube was improperly inserted into his lung. The jury awarded $1.5 million in wrongful death damages and $3.5 million in Survival Act damages for the death, which resulted from the attending doctor’s error in reading an X-ray showing where the feeding tube ended.
The patient, Marvin Summerford, was transported to the hospital from his assisted living facility in November of 2014. A week later, Mr. Summerford received a feeding tube, which he ended up pulling out. A new tube was reinserted by a first-year resident at the hospital, who subsequently ordered a chest x-ray to confirm its placement. Dr. Crisci reviewed the study and incorrectly concluded that there were no problems. Summerford then began receiving tube feedings into his lung, which continued for 12 to 14 hours. Doctors did not associate his signs of distress as he began to drown in feeding fluid as evidence of improper tube placement. Summerford died while restrained to his bed.
Summerford’s daughter and estate administrator, Anita Tong-Summerford, filed the lawsuit on the grounds of the negligent assessment and monitoring of the feeding tube. According to the complaint, the hospital and doctor failed to have policies in place outlining the proper X-ray study for the situation. They are also accused of failing to recognize her father’s symptoms of distress, in addition to the initial misplacement of the tube and the incorrect reading of the X-ray. The defense attempted to minimize damages by pointing out the man’s age, short life expectancy, and history of medical issues – ignoring the horrific circumstances of his death.
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Dr. Michael M. Wilson is an attorney and a physician who earned his undergraduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his legal and medical degrees from Georgetown University. He has focused in the area of medical malpractice for more than three decades and secured more than $100 million in settlements and verdicts on behalf of clients throughout the country. He is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and New York as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and the U.S. Supreme Court. He is listed in America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators.