Blood Machine Blamed for Professor’s Death

     NEW HAVEN, Conn. (CN) – A Yale professor died when a blood oxygenation machine “fell apart, causing her blood to be pumped onto the floor of her hospital room,” her husband claims in a lawsuit against the device maker.
     Susan Nolen-Hoeksema was chairwoman of the Yale University psychology department when she died, her husband claims in Superior Court.
     He sued Maquet Cardiopulmonary AG and four subsidiaries, which designed and made the machine, and Dymax Corp., which made the adhesive used to hold parts together.
     Richard Nolen-Hoeksema says his wife died within a half hour after the device fell apart. The complaint cites 16 other incidents in which the device allegedly failed.
     “Hospital staff attending to Susan saw her blood pouring onto the floor and spattering on the walls. Despite efforts by hospital staff and doctors, Susan was pronounced dead at 9:54 p.m.,” the complaint states. “At 10 p.m. Richard received a phone call from the hospital telling him that the device had failed and his wife had died.”
     His wife was receiving treatment for a heart condition. She had undergone surgery as a child and again in 2001 for the condition, which, though serious, had not kept her from leading a full life.
     She underwent surgery on Dec. 21, 2012 and her doctors determined that her circulatory system needed support from an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation system (ECMO) while she recovered.
     Maquet Cardiopulmonary designed and manufactured the Quadrox iD adult oxygenator device whose failure caused her death, her husband says.
     “Blood was drawn from Susan’s femoral vein into the blood inlet connector. After passing through the oxygenator and out the blood outlet connector, Susan’s blood – now enriched with oxygen – flowed through a final tube into her femoral artery.”
     But at about 9:30 p.m. on Jan. 2, after a visit with her son and husband, hospital staff heard a “popping sound: the blood outlet connector had spontaneously detached from the body of the oxygenator.”
     “When the connector fell off the oxygenator, blood began flowing out of Susan’s body from both ends of the broken connection,” the complaint states. “The ECMO pump pushed blood out of the oxygenator – and, unchecked by the back pressure of the ECMO circuit, did so at an increased rate. At the same time, Susan’s own heart pumped blood out of the tube connected to her femoral artery.”
     Nolen-Hoeksema claims that the defendants have recalled certain Quadrox oxygenators because of the risk that the connector ports would dislodge from the main body of the oxygenator.
     “The Maquet defendants have recalled all oxygenators bearing the lot number of Susan’s device, 70081567. But they failed to withdraw the oxygenator that killed Susan,” the complaint states.
     Nolen-Hoeksema seeks punitive damages for product liability and loss of consortium.
     He is represented by David Rosen of New Haven.

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