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Arthur Cohen Obtains Verdict in Favor of Hospital and Physician In Claim For Death of Patient After Surgical Placement of a Vena Cava Filter

October 23, 2015

Arthur Cohen Obtains Jury Verdict in Favor of Hospital and Hospital Physician In Medical Malpractice Claim For Death of Patient After Surgical Placement of a Vena Cava Filter. Supreme Court, Westchester County.

Decedent, then a 72-year-old, was admitted to our client’s hospital for the treatment of a deep vein thrombosis and expired five days later. Plaintiff was treated with the insertion of an inferior vena cava filter to prevent stroke. When codefendant surgeon placed the filter it did not open completely and migrated into the superior vena cava. A second filter was deployed without complication. A decision was made to allow the first filter to remain in place temporarily. The decedent remained hospitalized and came under the temporary care of our client physician. After being given pain medication for a preexisting back problem he became unresponsive but was revived by our client’s rapid response team and was transferred to the ICU where he stabilized. While in ICU he experienced kidney failure with dropping blood pressure and went into cardiac arrest and died. The autopsy revealed the cause of death was an accumulation of blood in the pericardial sac with two legs of the filter dug into the wall of his heart. The demand throughout the trial was $10 million.

Plaintiff argued at trial the filter was too small and the co-defendant failed to adequately flush the IVF with heparin saline, causing it to clot and the filter not to properly deploy. Our codefendant claimed that the filter was defective. Plaintiff also argued our client missed early signs of perforation from the filter and that various tests and consults should have been called and that plaintiff should have been transferred to a facility with cardiothoracic surgery capabilities.

We established through expert testimony the excellent job the hospital did to treat plaintiff after he suffered a narcotic reaction. We also established with expert testimony the absence of signs of cardiac issues prior to a non-party family physician taking over the plaintiff’s care the day before he expired. Our expert testified that based on the autopsy report the bleed occurred suddenly and not as plaintiff claimed days prior to his death. Our physician client testified plaintiff had been stable during his treatment and his lack of any role in the placement of the filter. We also established plaintiff’s poor and deteriorating medical condition prior to admission to the hospital. Following summations the jury returned a unanimous defendants’ verdict to our clients.