Nicole Bermingham gave birth to her first child in August 2013. She was discharged after the successful delivery and was happy to bring her baby boy home. But something was not quite right. She complained of pain in her pelvic region and her back. Six days later, when her fever reached nearly 102 degrees, her husband, Ed Bermingham, rushed Nicole to Abbot Northwestern Hospital, located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. According to a medical malpractice lawsuit, filed on behalf of the Bermingham family, after being evaluated by the attending emergency room nurse, Nicole was allegedly misdiagnosed with a urinary tract infection and sent home without further testing.
The Berminghams were at first relieved, but her symptoms quickly worsened. And just 12 hours later, Nicole was rushed back to the hospital, where doctors realized that she was suffering from sepsis and not a urinary tract infection. Sepsis is a potentially fatal complication of infection which is often caused by medical negligence.
After arriving back at Abbot Northwestern Hospital, Nicole, then just 30-years-old, died on August 26, 2013. The lawyers representing her estate claimed in court that if not for the negligence of the nurse, the sepsis could have been treated days earlier and Nicole would still be alive.
After nearly two years of litigation, a Minnesota jury found in favor of the Bermingham family, and awarded the plaintiff more than $20 million in damages. According to the lawyers representing the family, the damages represent the largest medical malpractice verdict in the state’s history.
In addition to the nurse, the lawsuit also named Emergency Care Consultants, who employs the emergency room staff at Abbott Northwestern, as a defendant in the case. No claims were brought against the hospital itself.
One of the lawyers representing the plaintiff’s estate told reporters that the Bermingham family is “grateful that they have justice for the loss of Nicole.” It is not yet clear whether the nurse or the Emergency Care Consultants will appeal the ruling.