Confidential Settlement: Animating How Misdiagnosed Infection Caused Septic Shock

Benjamin Gideon, Berman & Simmons Trial Attorneys, Lewiston, ME

Sepsis develops when the immune system releases chemicals into the bloodstream to combat an infection, but instead, the chemicals produce harmful inflammation throughout the body. This inflammation causes a sequence of dangerous changes that can damage vital organs and cause them to fail. If the sepsis progresses to septic shock, blood pressure collapses, and the patient dies.

In this case, a man in his mid-fifties died of septic shock hours after a walk-in clinic sent him home without diagnosing a potentially deadly infection. Had care providers drawn the patient’s blood and tested it, they would have clearly seen that an infection was present, and antibiotics could have stopped the infection in its tracks.

Benjamin Gideon, Esq., needed a strong visual presentation that would reinforce the themes of his case, establish how Defendants were clearly negligent, show how easily this death could have been avoided, and demonstrate that Mr. Gideon was prepared to do whatever it took to make sure his client’s family received fair compensation for their loss. We equipped Mr. Gideon with two animations that would:

  • Establish how a misdiagnosed infection resulted in sepsis and death.
  • Demonstrate how easily this death could have been prevented.

Mr. Gideon used these visuals at trial with his expert on the witness stand to show how easily this death could have been avoided through earlier treatment with IV antibiotics. The trial lasted one week. Before the conclusion of the evidence and closing arguments, the parties reached a confidential settlement of the case.

The following visual presentation helped Mr. Gideon and his expert present the evidence at trial and obtain a successful, confidential settlement after the first week.

Exhibit A: Establishing How Infection Causes Sepsis

The first animation establishes the mechanism of injury in how a misdiagnosed infection can progress into sepsis and cause death.

How An Infection Caused Sepsis

The animation opens with the circulatory system delivering oxygenated blood throughout the body. As the concept of infection is introduced, a magnified screen captures the Group G Streptococcus bacteria involved in this case. The bacterial infection circulates throughout the bloodstream and seeds into joints and tissue to cause sepsis, as shown when the camera zooms into the patient’s knee joint. In this case, the septic joint continued to permeate bacteria throughout the bloodstream, which harmed vital organs, caused difficulty in breathing, and dropped blood pressure - until the patient eventually died from septic shock.

Exhibit B: Demonstrating How Easily Death Could Have Been Prevented

Once we established how the infection resulted in sepsis and death, we needed to show how easily this entire sequence of events could have been prevented had care providers tested the patient’s blood and treated the infection in a timely manner.

Testing and Treatment for Sepsis

One of the indicators of infection is an increased number of immature white blood cells - called band cells - in the blood. The animation anchors the audience’s understanding of this fact by zooming in on individual band cells within a hypothetical test tube. The high percentage of bandemia, in this case, warranted urgent treatment in the form of antibiotics, which would have combatted the bacteria in the bloodstream, and could have easily prevented the patient’s wrongful death. However, the patient’s blood was never tested in the first place.

High Impact’s team of visual strategists, artists and developers can build and customize your digital presentation for any case involving personal injury, medical malpractice, birth trauma - or any subject involving complex information.

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