Medical Issues

A 37-Year-Old Mother’s Death Could Have Been Prevented

Giroux Pappas Trial Attorneys reach settlement in wrongful death suit brought against surgeon and hospital.

wrongful death lawyer

On behalf of our client we reached a confidential settlement in a medical malpractice/wrongful death case brought against a Cardiothoracic Surgeon and a hospital, regarding the preventable death of a 37-year-old mother of two. The young woman underwent a right upper lobectomy for newly diagnosed lung cancer, Stage IIa. What follows is a detailed account of complications that presented after the surgery and where medical professionals did not follow-up and manage the situation resulting in this tragic outcome. Giroux Pappas Trial Attorneys and their experienced Medical Malpractice attorneys researched and documented the symptoms and treatments – or lack of treatments, that caused the untimely death of the young woman. 

Approximately nine days after the initial lobectomy to remove the cancer, a CT angiogram of the thorax demonstrated an occlusion in the right pulmonary artery, which was ignored for three days causing the patient’s right middle and lower lobes to become ischemic. A complete right pneumonectomy was performed (removal of the lung) and postoperatively the patient developed a number of serious issues including: acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDs) in her left lung, bronchopleural fistula on the right lung, recurrent pneumonia, ischemic digits, encephalopathy/delirium, and ongoing bleeding which ultimately caused her death. 

Shortly after surgery, radiology studies demonstrated right pneumothorax and opacification in the right hilar area, as well as left-sided opacities. Plaintiff’s expert in Cardiothoracic Surgery supported that those findings should have been further investigated. In addition, the patient was experiencing increasing oxygen requirements, which went on for a week before a pulmonary consult was obtained, at which time an echocardiogram and CT scan of the chest were performed. The echocardiogram showed severe right ventricular dysfunction with significant right ventricular dilatation, and an estimated right ventricular pressure of 72 mmHg.  A pulmonary embolism should have been considered, and an urgent CTA of the chest performed. However, the CTA was delayed and then when finally performed it demonstrated no blood flow in the right main pulmonary artery. When Defendant Cardiothoracic Surgeon finally addressed the occlusion, the patient’s remaining right lung was no longer salvageable. 

In order to obtain a higher settlement, Giroux Pappas Trial Attorneys claimed the patient experienced decreased perfusion, or lack of oxygen to the brain. We argued that the patient’s mean arterial pressure in the 40s for a significant enough period of time was enough to cause damage to her brain at the cellular level. She suffered acute kidney injury, ischemic acute tubular necrosis, i.e as a result of poor perfusion to the kidneys. Her upper and lower extremities were documented as having progressive ischemic changes evidenced by coolness, duskiness, and mottling. This evidence supported that the patient was suffering from system wide microvascular ischemia, which more likely than not would have affected her brain.

Complex and emotional cases like this one where a family lost a young mother unnecessarily take thoughtful and dedicated attorneys. It is crucial to the success of any Medical Malpractice case to work with attorneys that care about your situation. As demonstrated above, medical cases are complex and require a deep understanding of medical terminology and the law. You need attorneys who are not afraid to dig into the details and can stand up to Doctors, Hospitals, and their Insurance companies, and take your case all the way to trial if needed.

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Carri Whittemore

Carri Whittemore's Bio

She is passionate about digging deep into medical information for the answers that will ensure her clients receive the justice that they deserve. She has long standing relationships with experts in the medical field that she can call on to support her cases and she is sought out by the partners to lend her expertise in working up a case for trial.