Patient sues doctor, Aspen Valley Hospital for $4 million |

Patient sues doctor, Aspen Valley Hospital for $4 million

A California man is suing Aspen Valley Hospital and its former chief surgeon for $4 million as part of a medical-negligence lawsuit filed last week in federal court.

Laurence Niles, 79, of Pacific Palisades, California, claims the hospital botched its treatment of him after he was admitted to the facility’s emergency room Feb. 17, 2013. As a result, he suffers from permanent brain injury and needs constant medical care, the suit alleges.

The lawsuit, which was filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court of Denver by Denver law firms Bogue Paoli & Thomas LLC and Ogborn Mihm LLP, comes after Niles’ attorneys gave the hospital notice on Aug. 12, 2013, that they planned to sue. The defendants are Dr. Bill Rodman, who could not be reached Monday, and the Aspen Valley Hospital District, which said it had not seen the complaint and declined to comment about it.

Niles was admitted to the hospital with a severe head injury, multiple rib fractures and other ailments from a ski collision, the suit says.

Doctors concluded he potentially was suffering from subarachnoid hemorrhaging, or bleeding of the brain.

The suit says the hospital’s CAT scan was down Feb. 18 to Feb. 22 and was “one of the causes of the failure to provide” Niles with “appropriate imaging studies” during his hospitalization.

Rodman assumed responsibility for Niles on Feb. 20.

“A decision was made by Defendant Rodman to keep Laurence Niles at Aspen Valley Hospital for further care and treatment rather than sending Mr. Niles to a medical facility that could provide a higher level of care,” the suit says. “Prior to Mr. Niles’ admission to Aspen Valley Hospital in February 2013, Aspen Valley Hospital had an established pattern of failing to transfer trauma patients and, in particular, head-trauma patients who required a higher level of care not provided by Aspen Valley Hospital to facilities that could offer that higher level of care.”

On Feb. 23, Niles received a head CAT scan and hospital physicians determined he had brain damage, prompting them to have him airlifted to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction.

Niles was discharged from St. Mary’s on March 7 with a diagnosis of intracranial hemorrhage, which is bleeding within the skull.

“While under the care and treatment of the Defendants, Plaintiff Laurence Niles was cared for and treated in a negligent fashion,” the suit says. “As a result of the brain injury, Mr. Niles, among other things, requires round-the-clock medical care. Laurence Niles’ brain injury is permanent and irreversible.”

Because of Niles’ age, the suit asks that the case be moved swiftly. A scheduling and planning conference is scheduled April 16, with Magistrate Judge Michael J. Watanabe presiding, according to court documents.

Until last year, Rodman had an exclusive-provider contract to oversee the hospital’s surgical services since 1993. Last year, the hospital severed his contract and brought in two physicians with Surgical Specialists of Colorado.

Currently, Rodman is on a one-year leave of absence with the opportunity to return in July as a private surgeon with hospital privileges.

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