Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Horror in a Hospital

PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) - A woman died after yelling "Stop!" as a hospital pumped her stomach, which grew to a "grossly abnormal size" as nurses "just look(ed) at each other," her daughter claims in court.

Lorraine Graham, daughter of the late Ellen Brister, sued Legacy Emanuel Hospital & Health Center and two nurses, Multnomah County Court.

Defendants Daphne Anderson and Jamie Carlson are both registered nurses, according to the complaint.

Graham says her mother went to Legacy Hospital on April 1, 2011, complaining of stomach pain. A Dr. Campbell "determined that decedent should have her stomach pumped due to a suspected blockage," the complaint states.

Campbell, whose first name is not given, is not a party to the lawsuit.

"Defendants Anderson and Carlson were designated and directed by defendant Legacy or an authorized defendant agent of defendant Legacy to carry out the prescribed medical procedure intended to alleviate the suspected blockage," the complaint states.

Graham claims the nurses took her mom to a room equipped for the procedure, gave her some medicine, and then "placed a nasogastric tube through decedent's nose into her stomach."

After inserting the tube, Graham says, one nurse stood near her mom's bed while the other stood next to "a switch on the wall where the nasogastric tube was inserted."

"Several family members were in the room immediately before the procedure and either Anderson or Carlson asked that a family member remain to give decedent support," the complaint states.

"Nicole Marie Brister, decedent's granddaughter, was the family member who remained in the room for support for her grandmother.

"Plaintiff can find no entries in the medical records of Legacy for decedent that record what happened next, as described by Nicole Marie Brister from her observation as she held her grandmother's hand.

"Anderson and Carlson communicated with one another as one stood by a switch on the wall and the other beside the bed, confirming that all was ready and to initiate the procedure by activating the switch.

"Of Anderson and Carlson, the one by the switch activated the mechanism that was intended to initiate the procedure.

"Immediately upon activating the mechanism the decedent's stomach quickly expanded to a grossly abnormal size.

"Immediately upon the mechanism being activated, decedent began yelling 'Stop, stop, stop.'

"Anderson and Carlson remained calm, simply looking at each other while the decedent was shouting 'Stop, stop, stop.'

"Nicole Marie Brister yelled to either Anderson or Carlson, the one standing by the switch, to 'Turn it off.'

"Of Anderson and Carlson, the one by the switch said to the one beside the bed, 'I think we should turn it off', or words to that effect.

"Of Anderson and Carlson, the one beside the bed responded in the affirmative manner.

"The decedent's eyes rolled back in her head and she lost consciousness.

"Of Anderson and Carlson, the one manning the switch turned it off.

"A 'code' was called and the decedent, who was bradycardiac by that time, was taken into another room where hospital staff worked to save her life." (Citation to other paragraphs in this complaint omitted.)

Bradycardia means an abnormally slow heartbeat.

Graham says that her late mother "bears no fault in this matter" because she was sedated and completely under the nurses' control.

She claims that "the ability to cause fatal damage to a patient literally within seconds in a hospital setting, as exemplified in this case, should not exist. There should be safety devices that make it impossible to activate such a potential[ly] destructive mechanism of injury. Accordingly it is believed and therefore alleged that there is a deficiency in the design, manufacturing or installation of the equipment that caused the fatal injury to decedent in this case."

Graham blames Anderson and Carlson. She claims they "negligently operated the mechanism; negligently failed to monitor the procedure, allowing the extensive damage before taking corrective action; negligently failed to convey the specifics of what happened timely to other hospital staff; and may have been negligent in other ways to be determined upon for further investigation and discovery."

She seeks damages for wrongful death and medical negligence.

She is represented by Ernest Warren, with Warren & Sugarman.

Categories / Uncategorized

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.