Woman's Family Sues Virginia Mason Over Fatal Medical MistakeMar 24, 2005 | SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER The family of a woman who died because of a fatal medical mistake at Virginia Mason Medical Center sued the hospital and a doctor.
The suit stems from the case of Mary McClinton of Everett, who died Nov. 23 after she was mistakenly injected with an antiseptic skin-cleaning solution.
McClinton, 69, instead was supposed to have been injected with a harmless marker dye commonly used for X-rays.
McClinton, originally hospitalized to repair a brain aneurysm, survived for 19 days during which her condition deteriorated rapidly, according to the lawsuit filed in King County Superior Court.
She suffered respiratory arrest, had at least one stroke, and was forced to have one of her legs amputated below the knee, according to the suit.
The day after McClinton's death, the hospital issued a long apology.
"We were completely forthright with the family about this error," Dr. Robert Caplan, the hospital's medical director of quality, said at the time. "I can't tell you how sad and apologetic we feel about the error."
Virginia Mason spokeswoman Kim Davis said officials there had not yet received a copy of the suit. According to a statement issued on behalf of the hospital and the doctor, the hospital has approached the McClinton family in an effort to settle the suit.
"Our hope is to quickly reach a resolution that will support the healing process for the family. We believe both parties want the same thing to reach a settlement agreement as soon as possible," the hospital statement said. "Our commitment remains to work toward eliminating medical errors in patient care."
McClinton family spokeswoman Susannah Peskin said the hospital balked when presented with a settlement offer from the family last month.
The suit was filed on behalf of the estate of McClinton as well as her four sons.
The lawsuit makes claims of medical malpractice against Dr. David H. Robinson, a radiologist. The lawsuit accuses him of injecting the toxic solution called Clorhexidine into McClinton.
The suit also makes claims of corporate negligence against the hospital, as well as claims of wrongful death and negligent infliction of emotional distress against the hospital and Robinson.
The lawsuit does not seek a specific dollar amount in damages.
The suit argues that the incident could have been avoided had a "labeling protocol" commonly used by other hospitals been in place in Virginia Mason's operating room, to ensure that McClinton was injected with the correct solution.
"For a woman of such great charity, love and dignity, Mary endured about the most painful, frightening and undignified death one can imagine," the suit says.