Defense Verdict in Favor of Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist in Stillbirth Case

Carolyn M. Bohmueller and Joana Gaizelyte-Lacy represented a maternal fetal medicine specialist in a four-day trial in Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, and secured a defense verdict.  The claim involved the stillbirth of fetus at 36 weeks gestation.  The fetus had a single umbilical artery diagnosed at 20 weeks gestation and was closely monitored.  At 35 weeks gestation the fetus was diagnosed with intrauterine growth restriction.  After ultrasound evaluation and doppler studies along with a non-stress test, a plan was in place to see the patient twice weekly for non-stress tests and undergo doppler studies and amniotic fluid evaluation weekly.  At the first non-stress test the patient alleged she complained of decreased fetal movement.  A non-stress test performed that day was reassuring and reactive.  At the following scheduled visit three days later, a fetal demise was diagnosed.  The jury deliberated and quickly returned a verdict in favor of the maternal fetal specialist, finding he was not negligent. 

Defense Verdict in Favor of Emergency Room Physicians and Hospital in Breast Cancer Case

Attorneys Carolyn M. Bohmueller and Jamie N. Johnson secured a verdict in favor of two emergency room physicians and a hospital in a two-week trial in Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas involving a claim of failure to diagnose recurrence of breast cancer.  The patient had been diagnosed with breast cancer at age 23 and underwent surgical and adjuvant therapy.  She continued to follow with her oncologist.  Fourteen years later, she presented to a local emergency department with complaints of left-sided chest pain, which were evaluated and determined to be non-specific, and she was instructed to follow up with her providers.  The following year, she presented again to the emergency department with a complaint of pain in her head behind her right ear, which was evaluated and she was instructed to follow up with her primary care physician.  Over two years later, the patient was diagnosed with widely metastatic recurrent breast cancer in her lungs, pelvis and brain.  The jury determined that neither of the emergency room physicians, nor the hospital, were negligent.

Defense Verdict on behalf of Anesthesiologist & Pain Management Physician in Epidural Steroid Case

Attorneys Michael Pitt and Mary Kay Plyter-Eigner recently received a defense verdict on behalf of an anesthesiologist and pain management physician after a one week trial in Montgomery County. Plaintiff alleged that her epidural steroid injection was performed using a steroid with preservatives and that the epidural needle entered the thecal sac, causing her to suffer chemical meningitis, manifesting as significant migraine headaches and associated symptoms. The evidence supported the defense that Plaintiff had a significant pre-existing headache condition and that the procedure was performed properly using a well-known, widely used and accepted steroid medication. After four days of evidence and closing arguments, the jury deliberated for an hour and a half, finding for the defendant anesthesiologist.

Defense Verdict on Behalf of Gastroenterologist in Matter involving Gastrointestinal Bleeding

Attorneys Michael Pitt and Mary Kay Plyter-Eigner recently received a defense verdict on behalf of a gastroenterologist and his practice after a three week trial in Philadelphia County. Plaintiff, on behalf of her deceased husband, alleged that the Defendant gastroenterologist failed to appropriately perform a gastroscope and recommend surgical intervention in a patient with signs of gastrointestinal bleeding. After 20 days of evidence, including testimony from more than ten medical experts, the defendants, and multiple fact witnesses, the jury returned a verdict about four hours later finding in favor of the defense gastroenterologist.

Defense Verdict for OB/GYN in case involving Wound Infection after Caesarean

Tracie A. Vizza and paralegal Lexi Romney recently obtained a defense verdict on behalf of an obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN) in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas. The matter involved a patient who had undergone a caesarean section and presented to the hospital several days after her discharge with complaints of intermittent fever, purulent drainage from her incision, nausea, loose stools and lightheadedness. The patient was first evaluated and examined by a medical student and a resident physician. At the time of her evaluation, although there was drainage from the incision, the area was not warm, red or swollen. Additionally, the patient was not exhibiting a fever. The resident physician probed the incision which showed that it was a superficial wound. A culture was taken and sent to the lab. The resident physician also irrigated the incision area with saline fluid until it was clear. The defendant, the attending OB/GYN, also examined the patient and probed the area. The patient was diagnosed with a superficial wound infection. As there were no signs or symptoms of a systemic infection, Bactrim DS, a broad spectrum antibiotic, was prescribed. The patient was advised to call, or return to the hospital, with any worsening symptoms.

Thereafter, the patient had continued purulent drainage from the wound area over the course of the next couple of days. Although it was alleged that the patient and her mother contacted the hospital, at no time was the defendant informed of these calls and/or worsening symptoms. Two days after her presentation to the hospital, the culture report showed that the wound was infected with a bacteria known to be susceptible to Bactrim DS. The culture report also suggested that an infectious disease specialist be consulted. The defendant physician was also not advised of these findings.

The following day the patient presented to a different hospital at which time it was noted that the antibiotics failed and the infection had worsened. The patient was hospitalized for several days as she required a debridement procedure and IV antibiotics to treat the worsened infection.

Plaintiff alleged that the defendant should have prescribed a different antibiotic and had he done so, the patient would not have required the debridement procedure. The defense argued that the broad spectrum antibiotic given was appropriate as bacteria causing the infection was not known until the culture grew out greater than 24 hours later. Further, the defense argued that a broad spectrum antibiotic which treats MRSA was required as MRSA is common in recently hospitalized patients and is highly resistant to may antibiotics, including the penicillin based antibiotics, which plaintiff’s expert testified was appropriate. The defense presented expert testimony by experts in OB/GYN and infectious disease. These experts established that the defendant acted within the standard of care and that the appropriate antibiotic was prescribed. After deliberation, the jury returned an unanimous verdict, finding that the defendant’s care and treatment of the plaintiff was not negligent.

Defense Verdict on Behalf of Internal Medicine Physician and Infectious Disease Physician

Marshall L. Schwartz and Brett M. Littman obtained a defense verdict on behalf of an internal medicine physician, an infectious disease physician, and a hospital following an eight-day jury trial involving allegations that the physicians failed to appropriately treat sepsis caused by fungal infection, which allegedly caused the death of a patient.

The case involved a 55 year-old female who presented for consultations with an oncologist and surgeon after being diagnosed with advanced bladder cancer. She also had a long-standing medical history of strokes and other chronic problems. Before the patient decided to undergo treatment, she was emergently admitted to the hospital with altered mental status, fever, and other potential signs of sepsis, which likely came from the urinary tract. The defendants treated the patient with antibiotics, and she improved to the point that she was able to be discharged. Soon after her discharge, however, the patient’s symptoms returned, and she was readmitted. She was again treated with antibiotics, but her course worsened. She suffered a heart attack and deteriorated before passing away.

Plaintiff alleged that while the defendants successfully treated the patient for her bacterial infection, they ignored the fact that the patient also had a fungal infection, which could not be treated with antibiotics. Rather, the patient required anti-fungal medications, which she should have received as early as the first admission. To support this contention, they argued that the defendants should have taken into account a pathology report that showed that a clot found in the patient’s urine was made up of both fungus and bacteria, and that the defendants should have considered a urine culture that showed fungus.

The defense argued, with the support of an infectious disease physician, that the earlier findings of fungus were merely incidental and did not require treatment. Once the defendants found actual evidence of a fungal infection in the form of a positive blood cultures, they immediately took the appropriate action, which included treatment with anti-fungal medication. The defense successfully argued that by the time it was appropriate to treat the patient, her condition had become so dire that her death was inevitable and not caused by any alleged negligence.

After deliberations that spanned three days, the jury found that the internal medicine physician was not negligent. The jury also found that while the infectious disease physician and hospital acted negligently, that negligence was not a factual cause of any injuries. The result of these findings was a defense verdict.