Medical facility sued over brain damage

By Lizzy Fitzsousa | Apr 16, 2014

NEW ORLEANS – A local woman is suing her doctor and medical facility claiming she suffered brain damage due to high blood pressure.

NEW ORLEANS – A local woman is suing her doctor and medical facility claiming she suffered brain damage due to high blood pressure.

Mary Fitzpatrick filed suit against Mack R. Holdiness M.D., River Oaks Inc., also known as River Oaks Hospital and River Oaks Child and Adolescent Hospital in the Orleans Parish Civil District Court on Jan. 23.

The suit alleges that on Dec. 6, 2009, Fitzpatrick was transferred from Tulane Hospital to River Oaks, where she voluntarily admitted herself. Her diagnosis was allegedly “suicidal ideation, depression and dystonic marital life,” the lawsuit states. She claims she had a pre-existing history of hypertension and was placed on Paxil for depression and Antabuse for alcohol abuse. Fitzpatrick alleges that her blood pressure began to rise during her stay at River Oaks, and despite consulting with Holdiness on Dec. 9, she was not put on a hypertension medication.

At 10 p.m. on Dec. 13, 2009 Fitzpatrick asserts she began complaining of severe headache, blurred vision, unsteady gait and nausea. She claims she had elevated blood pressure, so the midnight staff contacted the doctor on call, who ordered that Fitzpatrick be given and a 25 milligram oral dose of Capoten. The suit asserts that the staff then contacted Holdiness and advised him of her condition and treatment. He ordered that she be transferred to the East Jefferson General Hospital emergency room via ambulance at 12:05 am. After half an hour at the emergency room, Fitpatrick claims she still had extremely elevated blood pressure. She asserts hospital staff also noted her to have excessive cerebral edema of primarily posterior circulation with subdural hemorrhage layered across the tenurium and hemorrhage to the posterior left occipital area. The suit claims that by not getting her blood pressure under control River Oaks and Holdiness violated proper standard of care.

The suit claims Fitzpatrick suffered permanent damage to her brain and nervous system including neurological damage and deficit, permanent vision loss and other significant cognizant and neurological deficits.

Fitzpatrick is suing for damages including pain and suffering, mental anguish, humiliation and embarrassment, medical expenses, lost wages, earning capacity, permanent disability and loss of function and loss of enjoyment of life.

Fitzpatrick is represented by attorney Mark W. Smith of Metairie.

Holdiness answered the suit and demanded a jury trial on March 13, 2014. He argues that he is a duly qualified health care provider, entitled to all the benefits of Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act, including $100,000 limitation of liability. He claims that a Medical Review Panel rendered an opinion on Nov. 12, 2013, unanimously stating that Holdiness complied with the standard of care in his treatment.

He later amended his answer to include the argument that the Orleans Civil District Court constitutes an improper venue as he is not a resident of Orleans Parish.

Holdiness is represented by attorney Harvey J. Godofsky of Batiza, Godofsky & Schroeder.

River Oaks answered the suit by claiming improper venue because River Oaks is located in Harahan, in Jefferson Parish, not Orleans.

River Oaks is represented by attorneys David A. Bowling and Zachary R. Christiansen of New Orleans.

The case is assigned to Division I Judge Christopher J. Bruno.

Case no. 2014-00885.

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