Family blames mom's death on incorrect blood thinner dosage

Kelly Holleran Jul. 7, 2009, 9:50am

The two grown children of a deceased woman are suing The Oaks of Beaumont and one of its doctors, alleging their mother died from shock after being given incorrect dosages of anticoagulants.

Delores Calvin and Herman Johnson claim their mother, Jessie Johnson, was admitted to The Oaks at Beaumont on May 30, 2007, because of dementia, a previous stroke and atrial fibrillation requiring anticoagulant therapy.

According to a complaint filed June 24 in Jefferson County District Court, Jessie Johnson had a history of cardiac arrhythmia, which can cause blood clots in the heart that can travel to the brain and other organs, making it important for anticoagulation to be maintained at therapeutic levels

In addition, Jessie Johnson had suffered from a stroke in the 1980s, which left her partially paralyzed, the suit states.

When Jessie Johnson was admitted to The Oaks, her anticoagulant levels were sub-therapeutic, so doctors increased the dosage of her anticoagulant medication, Coumadin, the complaint says.

Calvin and Herman Johnson claim their mother's anticoagulant levels were still not therapeutic by June 15, 2007, so doctors added a second anticoagulant, Lovenox, to Jessie Johnson's medication.

However, by June 28, 2007, Jessie Johnson's anticoagulant levels were still sub-therapeutic and her physician, defendant Dr. William George, adjusted her Coumadin dose. He ordered a second test for July 10, 2007, according to the complaint.

But before a second test could be performed, Jessie Johnson began vomiting blood on July 9, 2007, at about 7:30 a.m., the suit states.

She was transferred to Memorial Hermann Baptist Beaumont Hospital where doctors found her to be in shock for anemia from gastrointestinal hemorrhage caused by anticoagulant use, the complaint says.

After being transferred to the intensive care unit, Jessie Johnson was found to have severe lactic acidosis and acute tubular necrosis from shock, her children claim.

"Even though Jessie Johnson was transfused and her anticoagulation was corrected, she could not over come the lethal effects of the shock and metabolic acidosis and after 2 cardiac arrests in the ICU she died on July 10, 2007," the suit states.

Before her death, Jessie Johnson experienced severe pain and suffering, mental anguish and physical impairment and incurred medical expenses, the complaint says.

Her children say they were forced to incur funeral and burial expenses, mental anguish and a loss of companionship.

While under the care of Pinnacle Health Facilities of Texas, doing business as the Oaks, and George, Jessie Johnson suffered gross abuse, extensive neglect and undue pain, according to the complaint.

The plaintiffs are seeking actual and exemplary damages, plus pre-judgment interest, costs and other relief the court deems just.

Clay Dugas and Mike Jacobellis of Clay Dugas and Associates in Beaumont will be representing them.

The case has been assigned to Judge Bob Wortham, 58th District Court.

Jefferson County District Court case number: A184-366.

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