Thursday, April 15, 2004

Heart Surgery Patient Who Lost Vision Recovers Confidential Malpractice Settlement

It was the contention of the plaintiff that he was inadequately monitored following heart surgery. Specifically, the plaintiff maintained that because his operating heart surgeon left town shortly after the surgery, there was no designated attending physician monitoring his care postoperatively. As a result, when the plaintiff's hemoglobin and hematocrit levels dropped steadily, this fact went unnoticed, resulting in significant anemia. Simultaneously, the plaintiff developed congestive heart failure which further compromised his oxygen carrying capacity.

Six days following his bypass surgery, the plaintiff was walking in the hallway at the hospital, as he was encouraged to do this by medical staff. At the time he was markedly anemic with reduction in oxygen carrying capacity for the supply of blood to his body tissues, he had a low mean arterial pressure during the day, and had also received a dose of a potent beta adrenergic blocking agent. He had atelectasis of his left lower lobe and auscultatory findings of rhonchi. As he was walking in the corridor, he noted a decrease in his vision which he described as cloudiness in his eyes. He was dizzy and had a headache. He complained of blurred vision and black spots in front of his eyes, which progressed to the point of almost complete blindness.

It was the position of the plaintiff's expert that the group system used by the defendants to provide postoperative care to the plaintiff resulted in a complete lack of continuity of care, a lack of thorough knowledge of the patient, the untimely acquisition of results of laboratory studies and the failure to follow up on postoperative orders, and that all of these things were below accepted standards of medical care and contributed to the plaintiff's visual deficit.

The case involved multiple medical experts from five different states. Attorneys Amos Gern and John Ratkowitz were able to settle the case after the depositions of the experts concluded.