Stanford v. Defendant Anesthesiologist and Transplant Surgeons

  • Circuit Court of Cook County (The Honorable Carol Pearce McCarthy)11/20/2008
    Client: Defendant Anesthesiologist and two Transplant Surgeons
    Outcome: Defense Verdict

Synopsis:

Plaintiff’s decedent, age 31, was admitted to a local hospital on August 20, 2002, for a living donor kidney transplant. The decedent had a history of tracheal stenosis for which he had undergone tracheal resection surgery approximately 2.5 years earlier. Plaintiff alleged that the decedent developed a recurrent, severe tracheal stenosis that significantly narrowed his airway prior to the date of the kidney transplant.

Plaintiff alleged that the defendant anesthesiologist and transplant surgeons were negligent in failing to obtain an updated evaluation of the decedent’s airway prior to the kidney transplant. Specifically, plaintiff claimed that the defendants were required to order or perform a fiber optic bronchoscopy or refer the decedent back to the thoracic surgeon who had performed the tracheal resection for further diagnostic studies.

Plaintiff further alleged that the transplant surgeons negligently failed to notify the Anesthesiology Service of the decedent’s history of tracheal stenosis and tracheal resection surgery. Plaintiff further alleged that the defendant anesthesiologist intubated the decedent with an endotracheal tube that was too large for the decedent’s narrowed airway. Plaintiff alleged that, as a result of the foregoing, the defendant anesthesiologist performed a traumatic intubation that caused the decedent’s death secondary to closure of the decedent’s airway following extubation.

The defense argued that the defendant anesthesiologist and transplant surgeons acted appropriately in all respects. Specifically, the decedent was referred back to the thoracic surgeon who had performed the prior tracheal resection in order to obtain clearance for the kidney transplant.

The defense further argued that fiber optic bronchoscopy prior to surgery was not indicated given the decedent’s absence of symptoms and patent chest x-rays. The defense further argued that the sole proximate cause of the decedent’s airway loss was systemic edema secondary to the large amount of fluid necessary to complete the kidney transplant surgery.

A Cook County jury returned a verdict in favor of all defendants.