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Defense Verdict for Attorney Frederick A. Sewards

Plaintiff’s decedent was a 47-year-old male suffering from super morbid obesity and an umbilical hernia requiring surgical repair.  The patient underwent a planned laparoscopic hernia repair by Defendant surgeon which proceeded without incident in a Columbus, Ohio hospital.

The patient then presented for a 14-day postoperative office visit with the surgeon.  He had developed a seroma which was drained by the surgeon and clinically determined to not be infected.  The specimen was discarded.  The patient complained of some fevers and chills at home, but had a temperature of 99 degrees.  The patient was instructed to follow up in two more weeks.

The following day the patient presented to his primary care physician with worsening of symptoms including shortness of breath and cough/nausea.  The primary care physician did a complete exam.  The surgical site and abdomen appeared benign.  The patient was thought to have developing postoperative pneumonia and was prescribed antibiotics.

Several hours later, the patient presented to a small town hospital in respiratory distress.  Abdominal exam continued to be benign.  The patient was held for five hours before being transferred back to the Columbus hospital where the original surgery took place.  Upon presentation at the Columbus hospital, the patient had abdominal distention, redness of the abdomen and an angry red and oozing surgical wound.  The patient was taken immediately to exploratory laparotomy by the Defendant surgeon who diagnosed the patient with necrotizing fasciitis.  The patient underwent careful debridement of all necrotic tissue and was placed in the ICU under the care of the ICU team and surgery.

Despite surgical intervention and multi-specialty physician management, the patient deteriorated, suffered cardiac arrest and ultimately expired and whether the actions or omissions of the surgeon caused the patient’s death.

The patient was 47 years old at the time of death and left a wife and two 3-year-old twin daughters.

The case was tried on the issue of whether or not the postoperative visit was properly managed by the surgeon within the standard of care.

Plaintiff’s expert surgical witness from Grand Junction, Colorado testified that, due to the patient’s super morbid obesity, the patient was at risk for severe deterioration and complications as the result of surgery and should have been more thoroughly evaluated including laboratory tests to check for infection.

The defense presented a general surgical witness from Central Ohio, a bariatric surgical witness from the University of Hawaii, an infectious disease expert witness from University Hospitals of Cleveland and expert witnesses in cardiology and forensic pathology to address life expectancy which was determined to be extremely limited due to the patient’s super morbid obesity.

After an 8-day trial, the jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of the defendant general surgeon.

16th Annual Advanced Forum for the American Conference Institute

Brant Poling recently participated in a national legal panel at the 16th Annual Advanced Forum for the American Conference Institute discussing obstetric malpractice claims and the topics of obstetric malpractice financial & legal decisions evaluation, settlement of cases, and insurance coverage.

Defense verdict for Attorney Frederick Sewards

Plaintiff’s decedent was a middle-aged female suffering acute and chronic cholecystitis and moderate to severe aortic insufficiency – an abnormality which decreases the effectiveness of the heart in perfusing tissues and organs.  The patient underwent a planned laparoscopic gallbladder surgery which was converted to an open procedure when the patient developed a small tear in the gallbladder.  The procedure was completed and the patient was admitted to the hospital for planned several days of recovery.  Although the patient appeared to do well initially, the patient suddenly deteriorated on postoperative day 3 and would not respond to resuscitative and supportive measures.  A CT scan suggested a possible perforation of the colon (which had been adhered to the gallbladder at the time of surgical removal).

The patient was transferred to a larger hospital where emergency surgery found tiny perforations of the colon and duodenum which were surgically addressed.

Unfortunately, the patient continued to deteriorate and ultimately expired.  The expert witness for the Plaintiff, a general surgeon from New York City, testified that while the surgery was properly performed, the general surgeon Defendant failed to timely identify signs or symptoms of an intraabdominal catastrophe.  Defense expert witnesses in general surgery, surgical critical care and infectious diseases demonstrated that there were no signs or symptoms of an intraabdominal problem until the patient’s condition changed suddenly.  Thereafter, the Defendant general surgeon acted appropriately and timely in responding thereto.

The five-day trial resulted in a unanimous verdict in favor of the Defendant general surgeon.