West Palm Beach, FL— Jurors Wednesday found a Florida doctor responsible for a patient’s ultimately fatal respiratory collapse and awarded the man’s family more than $20 million. Hamby v. Glauser, et al., 2021-CA-002579.
The Florida 15th Circuit Court jury, in Palm Beach County, deliberated less than four hours before concluding Dr. Joshua Glauser was negligent in his treatment of Joshua Hamby for a May 2020 bout of pancreatitis at a South Florida hospital. Hamby, then 54, suffered a respiratory collapse and ultimately died after receiving multiple doses of Dilaudid, an opioid painkiller many times more powerful than morphine.
Wednesday’s award includes $9 million to Hamby’s widow and $11 million to his son.
The hospital at which Hamby was treated was not a defendant at trial.
Hamby, who suffered from sleep apnea, received 27 doses of Dilaudid across 28 hours of treatment before his respiratory collapse. And the five-day trial turned on whether Glauser’s care, which included ordering the medication and deciding not to place Hamby on telemetry or pulse oximetry monitors, was appropriate under the circumstances.
During Wednesday’s closings, Hall Booth Smith’s Michael Burt walked jurors through the timeline of Hamby’s care. Burt said evidence showed Glauser followed an appropriate regimen of Dilaudid dosing, with an eye on the medical history he took from Hamby, including Hamby's statement that he did not suffer from any respiratory issues. And he added that Glauser ordered Hamby to be placed on a floor where nurses would regularly check on him, particularly when Dilaudid doses were at their most potent.
“The evidence… shows that Dr. Glauser is well-qualified to provide the care he provided,” Burt said. “And we believe the choices he made for treatment were eminently reasonable.”
But attorneys for Hamby’s family contend Glauser did not take a sufficient enough medical history of Hamby and that the monitoring that Glauser ordered was insufficient, given the potential fallout associated with Dilaudid.
During Wednesday’s closings, Freedland Harwin Gander Valori’s Deborah Gander reminded jurors that Glauser never asked Hamby specifically whether he suffered from sleep apnea, which can cause dangerous complications when receiving Dilaudid. And in arguing telemetry and pulse oximetry monitoring would have promptly alerted nurses to Hamby’s respiratory depression, she noted that no one knew how long Hamby’s respiratory collpase lasted before nurses responded.
“No one knows how long Josh Hamby’s brain went without oxygen,” Gander said. “Know why? Because no one was sounding an alarm when it happened.”
In a statement released after the verdict, Freedland Harwin Gander Valori’s Daniel Harwin said he believed the combination of powerful painkillers and the failure to account for their effects ultimately led to the fatal outcome. “This is a scenario where a physician did not appropriately screen or monitor a patient while simultaneously prescribing massive amounts of narcotics, which cost a father and husband his life.”
CVN has reached out to attorneys on the case and will update this article with their comments.
Email Arlin Crisco at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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