Medical Malpractice Cases

Gynecology Malpractice, Hospital Malpractice, Emergency Medicine Malpractice

Compiled from; Comments by Rose Clifford, RN, LNCC, editor


• Defense verdict. The plaintiff had a long history of mental illness, including panic attacks, suicide attempts and depression. In January 2000 the plaintiff was prescribed Adderall, which is made by the defendant. The prescription was renewed by a second physician in March. Four days after this the plaintiff was driving her car when voices told her to run off the road. She complied. The plaintiff’s 2-year-old son was killed in the crash and the plaintiff was injured. The plaintiff did not immediately begin legal action, connecting the drug to the accident only after seeing a Dateline NBC episode. By the time suit was filed the plaintiff’s individual claim for damages was barred. The death claim of her son, filed within the year of the appointment of an administrator, was timely filed.
The plaintiff claimed that the drug Adderall has a high risk of causing psychotic episodes in adults and that the defendant failed to provide adequate warning about this. The plaintiff specifically claimed that the defendant had admitted that Adderall had played a part in the suicide death of another person taking it 141 days prior to the plaintiff’s crash. The plaintiff claimed that steps to warn physicians of the risk of psychotic episodes at that time would have avoided her crash.
According to the Kentucky Trial Court Review a defense verdict was returned.
Branson v. Shire U.S., Boone County (Ky.) Circuit Court, Case No. 01-1220.

• RC: Psychiatric cases are extremely hard to pursue. Long-standing preexisting psychiatric histories are not favorably looked upon by lay individuals, and override the evidence in a failure-to-adequately-warn case. The general consensus is one of apathy toward the plaintiff.


• Defense verdict. The plaintiff, age 24, returned home at a very early hour after a night of drinking with friends. His wife and he quarreled upon his arrival. The plaintiff wound up with his hand going through a window. This caused a deep 4-inch gash in his arm which bled profusely. The plaintiff was taken to the ER and seen by an ER physician who called in a surgeon immediately, Dr. William Bowles. Surgery was undertaken to repair a severed brachial artery and median nerve. Partial blood flow returned and a transfer to another hospital was ordered for further treatment of the brachial artery. The plaintiff still had a vascular compromise in his arm at the time of the transfer. The arm never recovered and it is mostly useless to the plaintiff.
The plaintiff claimed that the injury was so severe and complex that Dr. Bowles should not have attempted the surgery to repair the arm in the first place.
The defendants claimed that the seriousness of the injury was immediately recognized and that the surgery allowed the plaintiff’s condition to be stabilized prior to transfer. The defendants also maintained that a delay in surgery could have resulted in the loss of the arm, or death.
According to Kentucky Trial Court Review a defense verdict was returned.Plaintiff expert: Michael Hickey, MD, surgery, Ft. Worth. Defense experts:Charles Eckerling, MD, emergency medicine, Lexington, Ky.; Gary Merlotti, MD, trauma surgery, Palos Park, Ill.; William Cheadle, MD, surgery, Louisville.
Bennett v. Bowles, Breathitt Co. (Ky.) Circuit Court, Case No. 00-0115.

• RC: The plaintiff caused the injury to himself. He can’t control his drinking. He can’t control his anger with his wife. So he puts his fist through a window and severely injures his brachial artery and median nerve — brilliant. Now he is suing his doctor who tried to stop the massive bleeding. Juries are very unsympathetic. It is reasonable to believe that the brachial artery injury had to be repaired in order to stop the hemorrhaging so as to ensure stabilization prior to transfer.

• Defense verdict. The plaintiff, age 36, went to the defendant hospital in September 2002 with complaints of dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, tinnitus, vertigo and loss of hearing in his left ear. He was treated by defendant Dr. Moczarski, who diagnosed acute vestibular neuronitis and viral syndrome. The plaintiff was released and seen by an otolaryngologist a week later. Steroids were prescribed, but the hearing loss was determined to be permanent.
The plaintiff claimed that Dr. Moczarski failed to timely diagnose and treat a sensory neuroimpairment and should have immediately prescribed steroids and anti-viral medications.
The defendants argued that proper treatment was given for the plaintiff’s symptoms. The defendants maintained that the hearing loss was irreversible before the plaintiff presented to the ER.
According to Michigan Trial Reporter a defense verdict was returned. Plaintiff experts: Eugene E. Saltzberg, MD, emergency medicine, Highland Park, Ill.; Warren L. Brandes, DO, otolaryngology, Bloomfield Hills, Mich. Defense experts: Steven A. Telian, MD, otolaryngology, Ann Arbor, Mich.; Oliver W. Hayes, III, DO, emergency medicine, East Lansing, Mich., David T. Overton, MD, emergency medicine, Kalamazoo, Mich. Eugene Rontal, MD, otolaryngology, Southfield, Mich.
Selby v. Moczarski and St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, Macomb Co. (Mich.) Circuit Court, Case No. 2004-2028-NH.

• RC: Defense verdicts often occur when damages — although large to the plaintiff — in the overall scheme of things appear relatively insignificant to the jury. The extent of the damage is an important consideration in the prescreening phase.


• Defense verdict. The plaintiff, age 48, had been a patient of the defendant since 1994. In August 2003 the defendant performed a procedure for removal of an ovarian cyst which was later determined to be benign. The plaintiff required further treatment and claimed that the defendant had dissected the left ureter during surgery. The defendant claimed that minor dissections are difficult to detect and can occur in the absence of negligence.
According to North Texas Reports a defense verdict was returned. Plaintiff expert: Timothy Durkee, MD, obstetrics/gynecology, Rockford, Ill. Defense expert: Theodore Fogwell, MD, obstetrics/gynecology, Dallas.
Quach v. Ramirez, Tarrant Co. (Texas) District Court, Case No. 48-206049-04.

• RC: Ureter injuries resulting from most gynecological surgeries are known risks to the procedure and have been discussed by doctors since 1902. A different approach: Evaluate whether a breach in the standard of care came in not recognzing the ureter injury within a reasonable time — usually three or four hours.

• $500,000 verdict. The plaintiff, age 69, was suspected of having cervical cancer in 1998 based on inconsistent and indeterminate PAP smears and other tests. In April 1998 she underwent a hysterectomy and a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. Four days later the plaintiff was discharged from the hospital by gynecologist Dr. Peter Holden. About three weeks later she returned to Dr. Holden with complaints of incontinence. She was referred to a urologist, who diagnosed a blockage of the ureter. The plaintiff required four corrective procedures, including the reimplantation of the right ureter and three stents. The plaintiff also suffered a 20% lost of use of her right kidney and incontinence until her corrective surgeries were performed.
The plaintiff claimed that Dr. Holden failed to properly perform the surgery and that all of the defendants failed to timely diagnose the blockage. The plaintiff also claimed that Dr. Holden failed to properly read the post-operative CT scan that showed an abnormality. The plaintiff additionally claimed that Dr. Holden should have referred her for an immediate consultation with a urologist.
Dr. Sitron was given a directed verdict, according to a published account. The matter was presented to the jury against Dr. Holden.
Dr. Holden contended that ligation of a surrounding structure during a total abdominal hysterectomy was a known risk of the procedure. Dr. Holden also claimed that Dr. Sitron had reported that the CT scan was not suspicious for an injury to the ureter.
A jury returned a $500,000 verdict. Plaintiff experts:Michael Kreitzer, MD, gynecology, Springfield, N.J.; Sol Usher, MD, urology, White Plains, N.Y. Defense experts: Alan Jacobs, MD, gynecology, Flushing, N.Y.; James B. Naidich, MD, radiology, Manhasset, N.J.
Owens v. Holden, Sitron & New Island Hospital, Suffolk Co. (N.Y.) Supreme Court, Index No. 14405/00.

• RC: In order to prevail in these types of cases, the consultant and attorney must show, through evidence, that the doctor failed to discover the complication timely, failed to put a dye into the ureters and failed to use a cystoscope to check the ureters. Failing to discover and treat promptly is medical negligence.

• Defense verdict. The plaintiff saw the defendant, an obstetrician/gynecologist, in March 2002 and underwent a pap smear. The pap smear was reported as normal. In July 2002 the plaintiff’s boyfriend informed her that she had infected him with a sexually transmitted disease. The plaintiff called the defendant’s office for verification and was then told that the pap smear had actually shown a trichomonas vatginalis infection. The staff told the plaintiff that she had not been told about this because the plaintiff was about to undergo some unspecified surgery and the defendant had not wanted her to worry. The plaintiff’s boyfriend ended the relationship with the plaintiff.
The plaintiff claimed that the defendant’s failure to tell her of her condition in a timely manner caused her to pass the infection unknowingly to another person, ending her relationship. The plaintiff claimed that she would have sought immediate treatment if she had been told, and she was successfully treated by another physician.
The defendant claimed that he had planned to treat the plaintiff for her infection on one of her follow-up visits after the surgery, but that the plaintiff failed to keep the appointment. The defendant also claimed that the delay in treatment did not cause the plaintiff any harm.
According to Indiana Jury Verdict Reporter a jury found that there was negligence, but awarded no damages.Plaintiff expert: Beryl Randolph, MD, obstetrics/gynecology, Ft. Wayne, Ind. Defense experts: Mark Lewis, MD, obstetrics/gynecology, South Bend, Ind.; Ronald Cyr, MD, obstetrics/gynecology, Brighton, Mich.; Sandra Brown, MD, obstetrics/gynecology, South Bend, Ind.
McGinnis v. Amechi, Allen Co. (Ind.) Circuit Court, Case No 02D01-0501—7.

• RC: A consultant should evaluate the extent of the damages in the initial reviews for merit. The only perceived damage is the loss of a relationship due to a treatable STD (sexually transmitted disease). A jury would question why the plaintiff and her boyfriend did not engage in protected sex, and likely determine that it was irresponsible. They would further surmise that the transmission of an STD was not the sole cause to the end of the relationship, and that other factors contributed.


• Defense verdict. The plaintiff, age 32, was admitted to the hospital in September 2004 for brain surgery for evacuation of a subdural hematoma resulting from head trauma. A drain was placed in the skull and orders were entered for the ICU nursing staff to notify a physician if the vital signs fell outside certain parameters. About 24 hours after surgery the plaintiff became agitated and pulled the drainage tube out of his skull. He was evaluated by an ICU resident and placed in restraints. A decision was made not to replace the drain. For about six hours after that several vital signs fell outside the parameters set forth in the physician’s order, but the ICU nurse did not notify a physician. The plaintiff was then found unresponsive after suffering a massive brain stem stroke. The plaintiff sustained serious and permanent neurological injuries, including blindness, inability to walk or talk, inability to feed himself and no bladder or bowel control. The plaintiff has been confined to a nursing home since the event.
The plaintiff alleged negligence in the failure to accurately report the amount of head drainage when the drainage tube was pulled out, causing the physician to decide to leave it out and resulting in accumulation of fluid in the skull with a gradual increase in intracranial pressure. The plaintiff also alleged failure to report vital sign abnormalities to the physician.
The defendants denied any negligence and claimed that fluid accumulation had nothing to do with the brain stem stroke, that the ICU nurse had discretion in deciding to contact a physician about the vital signs, that there was no gradual increase in intracranial pressure, but an acute and unpredictable seizure which triggered the stroke. The defendants also claimed that the seizure was most likely brought on by delirium tremors due to alcohol withdrawal.
According to Cook County Jury Verdict Reporter a defense verdict was returned.Defense expert: Cheryl Brown, RN, nursing, Evanston, Ill.
Benson v. Angela Gaden, RN and Michael Reese Hospital, Cook County (IL) Circuit Court, Case No. 96L=10934 and 00L-8354.

• RC: Consultants need to be able to explain the underlying anatomy and pathophysiology along with the etiology (cause) of the damages early in a case. Using a fact witness to explain the medical facts to a jury may have altered the suit’s outcome.

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