Plaintiff v. Defendant Hospital and Intensivist

Synopsis:

DBMS secured a verdict for the defense in a case in which an intensivist and interventional cardiologist were accused of failing to timely diagnose a retroperitoneal bleed following a cardiac catheterization procedure.

The case involves a 60-year-old man who presented to the hospital complaining of chest pain and pressure. The day after the patient presented to the hospital the interventional cardiologist performed a cardiac catheterization procedure without complication. The patient was transferred to the intensive care unit after the procedure and complained of abdominal discomfort 30 minutes later. The defendant intensivist was notified of the patient’s complaints and came to the bedside. The intensivist assessed the patient and observed that he was decompensating. The intensivist stabilized the patient by intubating him to protect his airway; placing a triple lumen catheter for the administration of IV vasopressors; and inserting an arterial line to accurately monitor the patient’s blood pressure.

The co-defendant interventional cardiologist also arrived at the bedside and worked with the intensivist to stabilize the patient. After the patient was stabilized, the interventional cardiologist ordered a urology consult to assess the patient’s inability to urinate. A cystogram was performed and revealed a fluid collection in the pelvis. Thus, the interventional cardiologist ordered a CT scan of the abdomen, which confirmed a bleed in the retroperitoneal space. Surgery was placed on consult, and an exploratory laparotomy was performed shortly thereafter to evacuate the bleed.

The plaintiff contended that the intensivist and the interventional cardiologist failed to timely diagnose the plaintiff’s retroperitoneal bleed which caused him to suffer subsequent complications despite evacuation of the bleed, such as anemia, continuing gastrointestinal and abdominal issues, renal function issues and permanent abdominal pain.

The defense established that the intensivist’s role in the patient’s care was to stabilize the patient. The intensivist’s evaluations and interventions were all completed within an hour. The defense established that the measures taken by the intensivist were all appropriate to stabilize the patient and monitor his condition while being evaluated in the intensive care unit.

The defense further established that, after the patient was stabilized, the interventional cardiologist appropriately requested the urology consult and that timely ordered the CT scan upon the completion of the cystogram. The defense established that the patient was diagnosed with the bleed and in the operating room for evacuation of the bleed within 4.5 hours.

The plaintiff asked for $6 million. The jury was out for less than two hours before returning a verdict in all defendants’ favor.