Unanimous Defense Verdict!
We are 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.
The patient 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 resolved.
Thereafter, 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.
The trial lasted 2.5 weeks and involved testimony of more than a dozen expert witnesses called by the plaintiff and defendant.
Despite nine 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.