In October of 2014, Michael E. Cleveland had a heart attack. He was pronounced dead. The next morning he was pronounced dead again. Cleveland’s widow has filed a malpractice lawsuit, stating that her husband may have survived if the doctor had responded to reports that Cleveland was still alive despite being declared dead the night before. Rather the doctor continued to insist that he was dead that night and left him for dead—to actually die, that is.
After incorrectly pronouncing Cleveland dead, the emergency room physician at DeGraff Memorial Hospital in North Tonawanda refused to revisit his diagnosis, even after the family reported that Cleveland was breathing and moving on his gurney and the coroner refused to take the body. The doctor told Cleveland’s widow that her husband’s body was simply expelling life.
Three hours after pronouncing Cleveland dead, and life support was disconnected, the doctor finally returned and found that he had a pulse. The ER team then began to work on Cleveland, who was restrained due to thrashing, and transferred to Buffalo General Medical Center where he underwent emergency cardiac surgery. However, they found that his right lung was saturated with fluid after being punctured, apparently due to a rib that was fractured while someone administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
After Cleveland died for the second time at Buffalo General, his wife got an autopsy. The autopsy showed that Cleveland died of a heart attack and hypoxia, oxygen deprivation in the heart, stemming from the collapsed, fluid-filled lung.
Cleveland’s widow is seeking damages from Kaleida Health, the owner of DeGraff and Buffalo General hospitals, the doctor at DeGraff and his medical group, FDR Medical Services (which supplies the emergency room physicians to several Kaleida hospital, and the doctor who operated on Cleveland at Buffalo General and his medical group.
While there is the possibility of winning a large damage award, Cleveland’s widow mostly wants for the doctor to tell her that he’ll never do this to another family.
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