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Personal Injury Verdicts & Awards

Geisinger South Wilkes-Barre settles suits with two families


Patricia Sabol collapsed and died 11 hours after she was discharged from the emergency room at Geisinger South Wilkes-Barre hospital in September 2006. Doctors at the hospital had attributed Sabol's severe abdominal pain to a urinary tract infection and sent her home with a prescription for antibiotics before anyone had reviewed an X-ray that indicated a more severe condition.

Susan Stanish died while resting in her room at Geisinger South Wilkes-Barre, 12 hours after undergoing surgery to repair a fractured right ankle in April 2007. She succumbed to respiratory failure after nurses treated her with the wrong medication.

Geisinger settled medical malpractice lawsuits with the families of both women on Monday.

Geisinger will pay approximately $3.2 million to Sabol's husband and two daughters and $1.8 million to Stanish's husband and mother.

Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Toole approved both settlements Monday.

Trish Quinter, a spokeswoman for Geisinger South Wilkes-Barre, said the hospital has a policy prohibiting comment on litigation. Joseph Quinn, the attorney for the plaintiffs in both cases, did not return a message for comment.

Sabol, 66, of Wilkes-Barre was taken to Geisinger South by ambulance on Sept. 7, 2006. The day before she felt the onset of lower abdominal pain. The pain intensified throughout the night and Sabol was unable to sleep, the lawsuit, filed by her husband, Job, and daughters, Sharon Finn and Roseann Sabol, said.

When paramedics arrived around 8:30 a.m., Sabol was "in a supine position on the sofa," and was, "unable to sit up or stand due to the severe sharp, stabbing-like pain," which affected her right groin area and her lower right abdomen.

An X-ray was taken, but not read until 4 p.m., more than four hours after Sabol was discharged. The X-ray showed signs of a much more serious problem - the perforation of a stomach ulcer, which had been allowing stomach and intestinal content, including acids and bacteria, to seep into the abdominal cavity.

That night, Sabol took a bath to ease the abdominal pain, which continued in such severity, she needed Job to help her out of the tub. Sabol collapsed around 9:30 p.m., as Job guided her down the stairs of their home. She went into cardiac arrest and never regained consciousness.

Stanish went to the emergency room shortly after 12 a.m. on April 25, 2007, after falling at home. An X-ray revealed that she had fractured her right ankle.

According to Stanish's medical history, she suffered from asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and obstructive sleep apnea, which necessitated great care in the "administration of narcotic medication," the family's lawsuit said. Narcotic medication could decrease a patient's respiratory drive, the lawsuit, filed by her husband, Stanley, and mother, Helen Aversa, said.

Stanish underwent surgery around 6:30 p.m.

Her orthopedic surgeon, James Matucci, prescribed several medications, including Vicodin, Xanax and morphine.

Around 10 p.m., nurses administered the prescribed doses, but also 2 milligrams of Dilaudid, a derivative of morphine, which had not been prescribed by Matucci, the lawsuit said.

At 3:15 a.m., another 2 milligrams of Dilaudid were passed into Stanish's system through an intravenous line, the lawsuit said. An hour and a half later, nurses found her unresponsive.

Life support was terminated at 5:25 a.m. Stanish died about an hour later with her husband, Stanley, at her bedside.

PLEASE NOTE: Every case is fact specific, and these results do not guaranty the same results will be obtained in a different case.

About HKQ Law

HKQ Law is considered one of the top civil litigation and commercial law firms in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Nine attorneys at HKQ Law were recently named to the 2019 Best Lawyers List and has been designated a Tier 1 Best Law Firm for personal injury, medical malpractice litigation labor law and corporate law in Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley. The firm’s Personal Injury Team, led by Attorney Joe Quinn, has won some of the largest verdicts and settlements in the region's history on behalf of injured clients. The firm was also recently recognized for one of the top 20 Verdicts in Pennsylvania.

The Personal Injury Team focuses on a wide array of personal injury claims and civil litigation, including medical malpractice, auto and truck accidents, aviation accidents, unsafe vehicles, dangerous or defective products, workplace injuries (worker's compensation), construction site accidents, claim denials by insurance companies, dangerous drugs, defective children's products, nursing home abuse and neglect, and falls due to unsafe conditions (slip and fall).

Attorney Joseph A. Quinn is one of only 100 attorneys in the United States (and one of only three in Pennsylvania) honored with membership in the Inner Circle of Trial Advocates, and one of only 500 attorneys worldwide chosen to be a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. He has been a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer every year since the program began and has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America every year since the publication was established in 1987. Best Lawyers also named him top personal injury attorney for Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley.

Since the inception of the firm, the Commercial / Corporate Team led by Attorney Allan Kluger has provided comprehensive, integrated legal services to many of Northeastern and Eastern Pennsylvania's largest corporations, businesses, banks, non-profits and institutions, handling matters involving labor and employment, wills, trusts and estate planning, estate administration, elder law, commercial transactions, residential and commercial real estate, zoning, land use and development, telecommunications, mediations and arbitrations, commercial litigation, title insurance, business planning and business succession, corporate/business structuring, employment discrimination law for employers, banking, creditor’s rights, finance, lender liability defense, covenants not to compete, construction law, mergers and acquisitions and other business matters.

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