Legal Pearls: Hospital Unprepared to Handle Emergency Reaction


    Ann W. Latner, JD


    A 41-year-old man went to his local hospital for an MRI with gadolinium to improve contrast.

    A radiology technologist was tending to the patient in the radiology room when she realized that he was having trouble breathing—an allergic reaction to the gadolinium.

    There was no alarm or call button in the area where the patient was. The tech had to leave the patient and run to the room’s control center to activate the alarm. When it appeared that the alarm was not functioning, she ran into the hall and yelled for help.

    When the supervising radiologist saw the patient’s condition, he immediately ran out and rushed to the emergency department, which was about 60 feet down the hall.

    By the time the emergency room staff were able to get the patient’s heart started again, the cardiac arrest and lack of oxygen had resulted in brain damage.

    Who was negligent?

    (Discussion on next page)