Richfield Recovery and Care Center has agreed to pay $495,000 to settle a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of one of its patients.
According to the lawsuit, Ruth Ann Dillon died in March 2013 as the result of mistakes made by the nursing staff of the Salem-based rehabilitation center.
Richfield denied any liability, but nonetheless agreed to a settlement that was approved Monday by Roanoke Circuit Court Judge David Carson.
The lawsuit, which had sought $2 million, stated that Dillon was transferred on March 11, 2013, from a hospital to Richfield, where she was expected to spend time recovering. The reason for her hospitalization was not included in court papers.
At the time, she had a tube inserted in her neck that was used to dispense medicine, fluids and nutrients.
Two days later, Dillon’s attending physician ordered that the tube be removed. A nurse at Richfield did so about 10 hours later — mistakenly thinking that it was a peripherally inserted central catheter, or a PICC line, the suit alleged.
A PICC line is inserted into a vein in a patient’s arm, while a central line such as the one used on Dillon goes into the neck or chest.
Procedures for removing the two types of lines are different, and are generally more involved for a central line. Among other things, removal of a central line should involve the patient lying face up and holding his or her breath. When those steps were not taken, the lawsuit claimed, Dillon suffered complications and had to be rushed to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, where she died on March 21, 2013. She was 75.
According to the settlement order, nearly $203,000 will go to pay the fees and costs of Gentry Locke Rakes & Moore, the Roanoke law firm that represented Dillon’s family. A little more than $34,000 will be used to pay Dillon’s medical bills, and the balance will be shared among four family members.
An attorney for Richfield did not return a call Monday.