Florida Record

Thursday, November 14, 2019

5th District reverses order for new trial in blood disorder case

By Robert Davis | Apr 10, 2018

Law money 09

DAYTONA BEACH — The 5th District Court of Appeal has reversed a judgment in favor of Geraldine Staples, whose husband died during a blood platelet transfusion, for a new trial after finding "the record does not support the trial court’s reasons for granting a new trial."

The appeals court concluded that Staples' attorney failed to demonstrate that the hematologist who helped treat her husband, Glenn Staples, "lacks knowledge of the hematological intricacies of the case."

Glenn Staples, 60, was admitted to the emergency room at Cape Canaveral Hospital on Feb. 9, 2010, with a blood platelet count of 1,000. A normally low blood for a man his age is 10,000, and a normal platelet count is around 250,000, according to information in the opinion. 

Doctors diagnosed him with acute immune (or idiopathic) thrombocytopenia purpura, a disorder that required immediate treatment to halt his body's destruction of platelets.

He was admitted to the hematology floor of the hospital after Dr. Saira Hashmi-Alikhan consulted the hospital's on-call hematologist, Dr. Firas Muwalla. The nurse commenced administering an intravenous immunoglobulin, which caused Glenn Staples to begin sweating and vomiting. The nurse consulted Muwalla who said to restart the IVIG after restabilizing him, information in the ruling said. When Glenn Staples' condition didn't improve Muwalla ordered the nurse to stop IVIG. He had also ordered the nurse to give Glenn Staples prednisone but the nurse never administered it, according to information in the ruling. He died the next morning due to acute cerebral hemorrhage from thrombocytopenia.

Geraldine Staples argued that the doctors breached the standard of care on three counts. First, they failed to order the IVIG be administered at a reduced rate. Second, they failed to order the IVIG and prednisone quickly enough. Third, they did not order a platelet transfusion. 

The defense argued that they both met the standard of care, and there was nothing they could do to save Glenn Staples' life given his extremely low platelet count. 

The Brevard County Circuit Court had ruled in favor of the two doctors but granted Geraldine Staples' motion for a new trial.

The 5th District, however, concluded that the Brevard County Circuit Court abused its discretion for granting a new trial because "its reasons for granting a new trial are not supported by the record."

The case turned to whether the physicians should have ordered a blood platelet transfusion not the proper administration of the IVIG and prednisone during treatment, according to the court's opinion. 

Since both the IVIG and prednisone were being administered by the nurse, the court ruled that "she met her standard of care" and "could not have caused [Glenn's] death."

The decision is not final until time expires to file a motion for rehearing and disposition.  

The opinion was given on March 29 by Judges William Palmer and Kerry Evander.

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Fifth District Court of Appeal