Now here’s something you don’t hear every day–a patient
and his medical provider filed a lawsuit against a medical device manufacturer.
The patient, Paramjit Singh, was undergoing heart bypass surgery in 2004
at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, WA, when a catheter
in his right ventricle malfunctioned.
The device overheated, and as a result, cooked and irreparably destroyed
the ventricle. Surgeons were focused on another part of the heart and
thus were unaware of the damage until the end of the surgery. Doctors
were able to insert a mini artificial heart but believed the patient would
probably die within a few hours.
Singh managed to survive but the road to recovery has been long and painful
and incomplete. After three days in critical care, Singh moved to the
University of Washington Medical Center, where he waited 11 weeks for
a heart transplant. During that time machinery kept him alive. The heart
transplant was successful, but Singh must take several dozen pills every
day, and he has battled numerous medical setbacks. Singh will never be
able to return to his former life.
Singh and Providence sued the device manufacturer, and in May 2008 Singh
was awarded $41.1 million.
Providence chose to use part of their settlement proceeds to establish
a $2.18 million fund devoted to improving patient safety. It was named
Singh Family Fund for Patient Safety and Quality in Singh’s honor.
The aim of the fund is to provide training and programs to reduce medical
errors and promote safety.