Two years after Casey Galusha-Beck’s death, her family has decided to file a wrongful death lawsuit against St. Charles Bend and two doctors that they claim were responsible for her death.
The family of Casey Galusha-Beck filed a $26.5 million wrongful death lawsuit against St. Charles Bend and two doctors over allegations that they “failed to properly diagnose and treat Casey with hydrocortisone, which would have saved her life.” According to the suit, which was filed on December 24, Casey died at the hospital on January 17, 2017 after suffering complications associated with adrenal insufficiency. She was only 32-years-old.
The suit was filed in Deschutes County Circuit Court on behalf of Casey’s estate. On January 2, Casey, a Jacksonville mother of two young children, visited the hospital’s emergency room “with abdominal pain, fatigue, low blood pressure, and a low glucose level.” According to the suit, “she had been ill with nausea and stomach pain frequently over the previous 6-12 months.” It further states:
“Adrenal insufficiency occurs when a patient’s adrenal glands do not make enough of the body’s main stress hormone — cortisol, which is essential for life…people who are diagnosed with that issue can take a small daily cortisol steroid and lead normal lives with normal life expectancies…The main symptoms of adrenal insufficiency are exactly what Galusha-Beck showed up at the hospital suffering from.”
Additionally, the suit notes that the particular condition is often treated with hydrocortisone in emergency situations because it essentially acts “as an antidote and immediately replenishes the patient’s cortisone levels.” However, the suit alleges that when Casey arrived at the hospital, “she was initially treated for a relatively mild infection caused by mastitis, an inflammation of the breast tissue.” At no point did doctors conduct a cortisol test, “even though medical students and first-year residents are taught to identify, diagnose and treat adrenal insufficiency when those symptoms are present.”
Specifically, the suit argues that “internal medicine doctors Farah Madhani-Lovely and Jason Hughson failed to diagnose and treat the underlying issue, despite issues that continued after resolving the infection.” Four days after arriving at the hospital, Casey finally underwent a cortisol level test. Unfortunately, that test came back “with a level of zero, which constitutes an adrenal crisis and is catastrophically dangerous.” Despite being informed of the test results, Hughson allegedly “ordered more tests and took a wait and see approach.”
Hours later, Casey suffered a “circulatory collapse and was found blue, without a pulse or breath,” according to the lawsuit. From there, she was resuscitated by two doctors who immediately administered hydrocortisone after learning about her symptoms and test results. It was too late, though. The suit states that “because of the significant amount of time that passed, Casey suffered severe brain damage and was diagnosed as being in a permanent vegetative state.” Several days later, she passed away. The lawsuit further states:
“The standard of care for every doctor and resident when treating an unstable patient with a dangerously low cortisol level is to immediately administer hydrocortisone and not to do delay administration of hydrocortisone for further testing because the patient could die while test results are pending.”
When commenting on the case, Christopher Kuhlman, the attorney representing the family, said, “The adrenal crisis (lack of cortisol in her body) caused her body to go into a circulatory collapse, causing permanent brain damage and death.”