Sosa v. Defendant Lithotripsy Center and Defendant Anesthesiologist and Anesthesiology Practice Group

  • 12/18/2014
    Client: Defendant Defendant Anesthesiologist and Anesthesiology Practice Group
    Outcome: Verdict in Favor of the Defendants

Synopsis:

On November 19, 2014, a Cook County jury returned a verdict in favor of the firm's clients, an anesthesiologist and anesthesiology group represented by DBMS. 

The patient, 72, was diagnosed with kidney stones in June 2008, but treatment was postponed for a year because he first needed to undergo placement of an automatic implantable cardioverter defibrillator (AICD) due to his severe cardiac disease. In June 2009, the patient successfully underwent an extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy procedure to break up the kidney stones a co-defendant facility. The facility's lithotripsy machine was an older model which involved placing the patient in a water-filled tub rather than using a fluid pad, so a representative from the defibrillator manufacturer was present to deactivate the patient's AICD for the procedure. The procedure was successful without complication.

The patient subsequently required a second lithotripsy procedure to break up the remaining kidney stones, which was performed at the co-defendant facility on July 29, 2009. The defendant was the anesthesiologist for the procedure.  A representative from the AICD manufacturer was again present to deactivate the device beforehand. However, the patient suffered cardiac arrest during the procedure, was removed from the tub, and was placed on a cart. A code blue was called, he was revived after fifteen to twenty minutes of resuscitative efforts, and he was then transported to a nearby hospital.  The patient remained hospitalized for three weeks, was able to follow commands, and was then transferred to a nursing/rehab facility, where he died of aspiration pneumonia on October 8, 2009.

The estate contended the lithotripsy procedure should not have been performed in a water bath because it would delay cardiopulmonary resuscitation in a patient who was at high risk for a cardiac event, the defendant should not have allowed the procedure to proceed in a water tub in case the need for immediate defibrillation arose, the defendant failed to perform defibrillation and resuscitation in a timely manner, and the defendants’ negligence caused an anoxic brain injury which led to significant disability and eventual death. The defense argued that the defendant was the country's most experienced anesthesiologist in the use of water bath lithotripsy, there was no significant delay in removing the patient from the water tub, the defendant’s CPR efforts were appropriate and the heart rhythm was restored, the patient had a markedly limited life expectancy, and the aspiration pneumonia was likely related to his congestive heart failure.

Plaintiff's counsel asked the jury to award $1.7 million dollars in damages.  The jury found in favor of the defendants.