Man’s Rare Disorder Leads To Fatal Ammonia Toxicity.

A 50 year-old Massachusetts resident, who had recently had pneumonia, presented to a community hospital with a change in his mental status.  His initial lab tests were normal.  The man’s disoriented condition worsened and he became nonresponsive.  Subsequent tests revealed an elevated ammonia level, which continued to rise, and the man was transferred to another hospital.  The man was later declared brain dead and his family decided to withdraw life support.  The family was awarded 1.75 million dollars in a settlement with the man’s medical providers.  The medical providers denied claims that they should have tested the man’s ammonia levels earlier, but it was apparently believed that they waited too long and did not aggressively treat the elevated ammonia levels.

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