pleased to announce a unanimous defense verdict in a catastrophic injury case
involving allegations of medical malpractice.
Attorneys Frederick A. Sewards and Patrick F. Smith defended a
pulmonologist who was asked to evaluate a patient with a permanent tracheostomy
who was experiencing respiratory distress.
had been involved in a car accident as a teenager and suffered tracheal
stenosis as a complication of her treatment.
This resulted in a permanent tracheostomy which her treating physicians
were attempting to reverse and close.
The patient, at age 18, developed an obstruction of her airway and went
to a small local community hospital for evaluation. The airway obstruction could not be resolved
and the defendant pulmonologist was called in to assess the airway and
determine if the patient was capable to transfer to a large tertiary care
center. Unable to clear the airway, the
defendant physician opted to remove the tracheostomy and intubate the patient
for transport and secure her airway to avoid cardiopulmonary collapse. The patient was successfully transferred to
the tertiary care center, but a small tear of the posterior wall of her trachea
was identified. While she did well
thereafter, she eventually developed a fistula between her trachea and her
esophagus which required a feeding tube to be placed while the fistula (a
tube-like connection between the esophagus and the trachea) was treated and
a complication with the feeding tube occurred wherein her small bowel became
wrapped around the tube and strangulated resulting in the removal of all but
10cm of her small bowel. She has since
been required to receive all nutrition intravenously since she no longer has
adequate small bowel to digest and absorb nutrients from food orally.
On top of
the patient’s numerous misfortunes, she suffered an incomplete paraplegia from
her original car accident as a teenager.
lasted 2.5 weeks and involved testimony of more than a dozen expert witnesses
called by the plaintiff and defendant.
different theories of negligence brought by the plaintiff against the
defendant, the jury returned a verdict, after only three hours, unanimously
finding in favor of the defendant pulmonologist on all allegations.