Sunday, November 01, 2009
Sommers Schwartz Attorneys Matthew Curtis and Rick Grofsky Obtain 3 Million Dollar Settlement For Brain Injured Woman
Sommers Schwartz attorneys Matthew Curtis and Richard Groffsky were able to obtain $3,045,000 for a client (plaintiff) that presented to the hospital for an elective low-anterior colon resection.
Their client, the plaintiff, was 49 years old at the time she presented to defendant hospital on the morning of 7/1/05 for an elective low anterior colon resection secondary to persistent and symptomatic diverticulitis that was refractory to medical management. After her initial check-in and admission, the plaintiff was taken to the PACU where a thoracic epidural was placed for post-op pain control. After placing the epidural, the plaintiff was then taken to the OR by the anesthesia assistant, who inappropriately and without approval from the defendant anesthesiologist, activated the epidural with 5 ml of 2% lidocaine with epinephrine. It was testified to by both the defendant anesthesiology assistant and defendant anesthesiologist that at the time that the epidural was activated, the defendant anesthesiologist was not in the operating room, nor was the “activation” of the epidural ever discussed with the anesthesiologist.
Immediately after the activation of the epidural, the defendant anesthesiologist entered the operating room where an IV induction of the plaintiff took place with lidocaine, fentanyl, propofol, and Nimbex. Unfortunately, only minutes after the induction, the defendant anesthesiologist decided to leave the plaintiff’s side to go check on another patient in another operating room. As a result, the defendant anesthesiology assistant was left to watch and manage the plaintiff’s anesthesia care. It was testified to by the defendant anesthesiologist that he was in charge of three operating rooms at the time, and was unable to stay with any one patient. Therefore, he relied upon his assistants to provide the primary management of the anesthesia care during the ongoing surgeries with him supervising.
Almost immediately after the induction and activation of the epidural, the plaintiff became hypotensive and bradycardic and subsequently went into PEA (pulseless electrical activity). As opined by the plaintiff s experts, and admitted to by the defendants, the most likely cause of the plaintiff s deterioration was related to the epidural that was activated just prior to her induction.
At the time of her surgery, the plaintiff was significantly volume depleted due to her being NPO from the night before and the previous bowel prep she had undergone in order to flush her system prior to surgery. These two factors left the plaintiff significantly dry on the day of surgery. Just prior to surgery, the plaintiff had only received 500 cc of fluid indicating that she was in a severely volume depleted state before the surgery ever began. The plaintiff needed to be loaded with more fluids before the surgery began, which unfortunately, she never received.
With the plaintiff’s fluid volume down, she was now set up for her vascular collapse. The fact that the defendant anesthesiology assistant chose to activate the plaintiff’s epidural in conjunction with the induction, caused a significant vasodilation in the plaintiff’s vasculature. This in turn caused the plaintiff’s blood pressure to bottom out since she was already dry from being NPO and undergoing a bowel prep. Once the plaintiff developed her hypotension and bradycardia, the anesthesiology assistant was slow to react in providing appropriate volume replacement and appropriate amounts of resuscitative medications. In addition, and very importantly, the defendant anesthesiology assistant delayed in contacting the defendant anesthesiologist to request that he return to the OR to provide the appropriate care during this crisis. Although successfully resuscitated following the plaintiff s cardiopulmonary arrest in the OR, the resuscitation was delayed causing a significant hypoxic ischemic injury to the plaintiff s brain which left her permanently disabled.
Mr. Curtis and Groffsky were able to avoid the expenses of a trial for the client and settle the case by paying very careful attention to the minute by minute details that occurred once the plaintiff entered the operating room. They were then able to point out extremely significant discrepancies and conflicts that surfaced between the testimony of the defendant anesthesiology assistant and defendant anesthesiologist.
The settlement was one of Michigan’s largest medical malpractice settlements of 2009.