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Jurors Awarded $30 Million in Emergency Care Death

By Stephanie Patrick, November 22, 2001

DOWNTOWN DALLAS – Jurors in Dallas’ 193rd District Court last week

awarded more than $30 million to the family of a Carrollton man who

died after waiting 11 hours for care at Medical Center of Las Colinas.

The

jury returned a $9.2 million actual-damages verdict Nov. 8, having

found the hospital grossly negligent in the death of Robert Hogue, Jr.

After hearing evidence in the punitive damages phase of the trial,

jurors awarded an additional $21 million on Nov. 9.

Medical

Center of Las Colinas is owned and operated by Nashville’s HCA Inc.,

which operates several hospitals in the North Texas area.

Robin

Carter, hospital spokeswoman, said Las Colinas Medical Center and HCA

are disappointed by the verdict and are considering several options,

including an appeal.

“Our deepest sympathies go to the Hogue family for their loss,” Carter said.

Mark

Werbner, counsel to the Hogue family, said, “It’s shocking that a

company with HCA’s resources could be so ill-equipped and ill-prepared.

The family also is represented by Dallas’ Melvin Wolovits, a partner in medical malpractice law firm Wolovits & Gross.

Hogue,

52, died March 9, 1998. He had gone to the emergency room complaining

of breathing problems at 9 a.m. The pulmonologist who was paged to

treat him didn’t see him until 1:30 p.m., according to the Hogue

family. The physician requested an emergency echocardiogram at 3:30

p.m., but the procedure wasn’t performed until 6 p.m.

Because the

surgery Hogue required couldn’t be performed at Las Colinas, he was

ordered to be transferred to a hospital in nearby Irving.

However,

Las Colinas did not have an agreement with an ambulance service to

provide an emergency transfer, so his move was delayed. By the time

Hogue arrived in surgery, his heart had stopped and attempts to

resuscitate him failed. He was pronounced dead at 9:46 p.m.

“The

11-hour delay to transfer Mr. Hogue resulted from the conscious failure

of the administration of Medical Center of Las Colinas to arrange for

the availability of specialty physicians and technicians needed to

diagnose a patient with a heart problem such as Mr. Hogue’s,” Wolovits

said.

Werbner added, “The hospital lost even more time waiting

for an ambulance to arrive. It was just one delay after another, and

those delays cost Mr. Hogue his life.

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