A Plaintiff recently lost a medical malpractice case in which it was alleged that there was a failure to properly place a patient on anti-coagulants after orthopedic surgery, which caused blood clots to form and kill the patient (pulmonary embolism). Apparently, a 54-year-old former pastor died three weeks after undergoing surgery on his leg. He developed difficulty breathing that day and was taken to a hospital where he died. An autopsy found that his death was caused by a blood clot in his lungs that originated in his leg. The patient claimed in the suit that the doctor should have prescribed medications to reduce the chance of blood clots after the surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon. A copy of the article regarding the case can be found here.
I have handled approximately five pulmonary embolism medical malpractice cases in the Baltimore, Maryland / Washington area, and have been highly successful in each one. The standard of care in these cases is very clear. Whenever a patient has certain risk factors, such as certain medical conditions like obesity, advanced age, surgery lasting more then two hours, etc., the surgeon must ensure that certain preventive measures are taken, such as tight stockings (commonly called Ted Stockings; to keep blood from pooling in the legs), sequential compression devices (inflatable leg sleeves that keep the blood moving in the legs), and/or a blood thinner (coumadin, lovinox, etc.).
In one of my million dollar medical malpractice verdicts in a pulmonary embolism case, a woman in her 50’s underwent a gynecological procedure and, after spending a couple of days recuperating in the hospital, went home, where she soon died of a pulmonary embolism. A review of the records revealed that she had the risk factors of relatively advanced aged and surgery of more than two hours, but had not been given a blood thinner and the nursing staff had not fully followed the doctor’s recommendation to use sequential compression devices. Our experts testified that both were violations of the standard of care. The case went to trial in Baltimore County and resulted in a million dollar-plus verdict.
In another one of my million dollar medical malpractice verdicts in a pulmonary embolism case, a man in his 70’s underwent a two hour long partial colon resection and, after spending a few days in the hospital was sent home. He came back to the hospital’s emergency room a few days later with chest pain and difficulty breathing, but the emergency room doctor (who actually was a young cardiologist moonlighting in the emergency room) failed to consider that it might be a pulmonary embolism, even though chest pain and difficulty breathing are two of classic signs of a pulmonary embolism, and sent the man home with a diagnosis of pneumonia. He came back about four days later and was admitted for a few days again for chest pain, difficulty breathing, and “lung pain,” but again no one considered pulmonary embolism. He died suddenly in the hospital of a massive pulmonary embolism, which the autopsy confirmed. Our experts testified that there was substantial medical negligence during both the emergency room visit and subsequent hospital admission, because they never ever thought about pulmonary embolism in an elderly post-surgical patient who underwent a two hour surgery, and as a result he died. The case went to trial in Baltimore City and resulted in a million dollar plus verdict.