1.866.LIT.FUND
We make the impossible possible.

Litigation Funding Blog

City Fire Department to Pay $1 Million Settlement in Wrongful Death Lawsuit to Family of Pregnant Woman for Failure of Paramedics to Assess and Transport

October 9, 2020

Paramedics are emergency responders who are educated in advanced emergency medical care. They are responsible for on-the-scene treatment and can administer medicine, interpret electrocardiograms (EKGs), perform a tracheotomy to create new airways, and apply pacemakers to control irregular heartbeats.

Under Michigan law, paramedics must respond to a request to emergency medical assistance. They must also apply life support techniques and treatment. The paramedics are liable for the treatment or lack thereof if their acts or omissions result in gross negligence or willful misconduct. Failure to properly assess and treatment the patient as well as failure to transport patient to the hospital for professional medical assessment are grossly negligent.

On March 14, 2016, Vicki Kitelinger went to Dignity Health hospital because she was had a cough and shortness of breath for a week. At the time, she was 17 weeks pregnant. The doctors found that her heartbeat was much higher than it should be especially during pregnancy. The doctors diagnosed Kitelinger with bronchitis and sent her home from the hospital with an inhaler.

Kitelinger had a family history of blood clots. However, during her medical assessment at Dignity Health the medical staff did not ask her whether she had a family history of blood clots. She also had her own medical history of varicose veins. Soon after returning home from the hospital, Vicki fainted twice. She then told her daughter she could not breathe, and her daughter called 911.

The paramedics arrived to the home shortly after the 911 call in a fire truck. An ambulance for transport never came to the house, and it is unknown if one was ever dispatched. After evaluating Kitelinger, the paramedics said that she was just have a panic attack and did not need further medical treatment. They told Vicki to call her family doctor the next day about her elevated blood pressure. Then, the paramedics left the house.

She went to her family physician the next day, as instructed by the paramedics. Determining that she was severely ill, her doctor had her transported to a nearby hospital. Once evaluated at the hospital, she was moved to the intensive care unit (ICU). In the ICU, her heart failed and her pulse was lost for ten minutes. She and her pregnancy could not be saved. She was removed from life support and died.

Her husband filed a lawsuit against Dignity Health hospital and the paramedics of the Phoenix Fire Department. The lawsuit alleges that Dignity Health failed to properly assessed her symptoms or diagnose her condition. The lawsuit also claims that the paramedics failure to assess and transport Kitelinger gave no chance of survival. While the lawsuit against the hospital is still ongoing, the city agreed to pay a $1 million settlement to Kitelinger’s husband and family regarding the claims against the fire department.

Litigation Funding