E. Idaho Hospital Reaches Agreement in Wrongful Death Suit

June 12, 2008

A settlement has been reached between an Idaho Falls hospital and the family of a 73-year-old woman who had sued the hospital over her death.

The agreement was reached between the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center and the family of Evelyn Weeks, after a trial in 7th District Court and while the jury was deliberating. Terms were not released.

“The parties and their respective counsel greatly appreciate the assistance of the court and the service of the jury throughout the trial of this case,” the parties said in a joint statement. “We are equally gratified that we were able to resolve the matter directly between us.”

Weeks died May 21, 2003, at the hospital. She was taken there May 12, 2008, after collapsing at her home. Doctors at the hospital determined Weeks had a brain hemorrhage, and a catheter was placed in her head to drain excess fluid.

She underwent surgery and was placed in the intensive care unit.

On May 14, 2008, a nurse found that Weeks had decreased consciousness and discovered that medications that should have been injected through an intravenous line were instead connected to the tube that drained fluid from her brain.

Her health then declined to where she had to be connected to a ventilator. She died a week later.

An autopsy report found it was impossible to determine the effects of the nursing error but said they were “likely negligible.”

The lawsuit was dismissed in 2005 after a judge ruled the family’s expert witness, Dr. Edward Smith, wasn’t qualified as an expert because he couldn’t determine the effect of the medication put into Weeks’ brain. Smith testified that no research had ever been done on such a scenario.

The Idaho Supreme Court overturned the judge’s decision.

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