Paramedics Dropped Gurney; Death Ruled Accidental

May 8, 2015 | Crandall & Pera Law
Paramedics Dropped Gurney; Death Ruled Accidental

The Northfield Fire Department responded to an emergency call on March 26. On arrival, paramedics were moving Charles Borton, 81, from his house to a waiting ambulance when they dropped the gurney, causing Borton to strike his head. Borton passed away three days later.

The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner recently released a report that listed skull and brain injuries as conditions related to his death – yet the primary cause of Borton’s death was heart disease.

Though the circumstances surrounding Charles Borton’s death do seem a bit “odd,” it is possible that the head injury he suffered led to a blood clot, which could have led to his death. It is also possible that the trauma affected already weakened blood vessels or a strained heart, and no information has come forth disputing it. According to the American Heart Association, “Heart and blood vessel disease — also called heart disease — includes numerous problems, many of which are related to a process called atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a condition that develops when a substance called plaque builds up in the walls of the arteries. This buildup narrows the arteries, making it harder for blood to flow through. If a blood clot forms, it can stop the blood flow. This can cause a heart attack or stroke.”

Charles Borton’s head injury could have exacerbated any number of heart disease-related problems, leading to:

  • Heart attack. A heart attack happens when a clot blocks blood flow to a part of the heart. If the clot completely blocks blood flow, heart tissue can be damaged.

  • Ischemic Stroke. The most common type of stroke happens when blood flow to the brain is interrupted. A stroke can cause irreparable brain damage.

  • Hemorrhagic Stroke. This type of stroke happens when a blood vessel in the brain bursts. Hemorrhagic stroke can be the result of hypertension.

  • Heart failure. Heart failure can also be called congestive heart failure. As the heart weakens, it becomes unable to maintain an adequate amount of oxygenated blood to the body.

  • Arrhythmia is irregular beating of the heart. Whether too fast or too slow, arrhythmia can cause a variety of health issues.

  • Heart valve problems. When heart valves don’t work properly, they can allow too much or too little blood to flow through. In certain cases, heart valve problems can allow blood to flow the wrong way.

Or Mr. Borton’s death could have been the direct result of his traumatic brain injury, and the case of death is listed as heart disease to avoid liability – even though emergency workers are often exempt from liability when in the course of attempting to save a life, and the fall was ruled an accident. In any event, we wonder if this tragic case is not an example of post-mortem misdiagnosis.

For more information about liability laws in Ohio and Kentucky, we invite you to contact Crandall & Pera Law. Our skilled medical malpractice attorneys can help you learn more about your options.