Family Sues Hospital For Woman's Death

Lawsuit: IV In 74-Year-Old's Arm Caused Sepsis Infection

Published On: Oct 19 2011 04:28:09 PM EDT   Updated On: Jun 16 2011 08:52:30 AM EDT
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

A Jacksonville family has filed a lawsuit against Memorial Hospital blaming its staff for their loved one's death.

Theressa Cabe's family said the 74-year-old died New Year's Eve, just minutes before midnight, inside the hospital. They said her death was horrible and painful and could have been prevented after what should have been a routine visit.

Ray Cabe wiped tears from his eyes Thursday as he spoke about his wife.

Theressa Cabe was admitted to Memorial Hospital on Dec. 23 with low hemoglobin levels in her blood, or slight anemia.

Her family said hospital staff gave her a routine IV in her arm, and her husband immediately noticed something was wrong.

"She told me her arm was hurting," Ray Cabe said. "I looked at her arm and it was swollen and red."

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Cabe said he and his wife told nurses about her arm for days, but they claim the hospital staff did nothing.

The Cabes' attorney said documents show doctors were never notified.

Theressa Cabe's daughter, Judy Grimes, who's a registered nurse, said she was alarmed by what she saw.

"It was red from her hand to her upper arm," Grimes said. "It was hot to touch and incredibly painful."

The family claims it wasn't until a week later, days after the IV was removed, that staff diagnosed her with an infection, but family attorney Sean Cronin said that by then, it was too late.

Theressa Cabe died Dec. 31. Hospital paperwork lists the cause of death as sepsis, secondary to MRSA, from an abscess in her arm where the IV had been placed.

Cronin said she had also developed flesh-eating bacteria.

"This should not happen," Cronin said. "People should not be getting an infection to this extent from an IV."

Theressa Cabe's family said that just weeks before her death, she had been traveling and had gone to Las Vegas. They said she turned 74 years old while she was in the hospital.

The family said the sole purpose of the lawsuit is to prevent this from happening to anyone else.

"She should not be dead as a result of this," Grimes said.

"When are you going to provide proper management and control?" Ray Cabe said.

Memorial Hospital released the following statement Thursday afternoon:

"We are deeply sorry for the loss the Cabe family is experiencing. This is a sad reminder that MRSA is a significant concern for health care providers and is particularly problematic for patients who are already compromised by a serious illness. Like hospitals around the country, Memorial is involved in and committed to an intensive program to effectively curb MRSA."

Cronin said this is the first case he's dealt with involving an infected IV and Memorial Hospital. He said he's aware of other cases involving infections, but he didn't have additional information on them.

The family said Theressa Cabe had a history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and she had been in remission from leukemia for more than a year. But attorneys said those conditions had nothing to do with her death.