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 for Neurosurgeon in Montgomery County

Heather Hansen obtained a defense verdict for a neurosurgeon in Montgomery County. The plaintiff alleged that the neurosurgeon negligently performed a complete laminectomy with foraminotomy procedure on her, thereby injuring her spinal cord. Although the plaintiff awoke from surgery with a Brown-Sequard Syndrome, the defense contended that the operation was performed appropriately and that there was no evidence in the medical records to suggest that the neurosurgeon caused the plaintiff’s injuries. The defense also noted that the plaintiff’s medical expert had not ruled out all other possible causes of the plaintiff’s injury, such as spinal stroke. After deliberating for less than an hour, the jury returned a verdict in the defendant’s favor.

Defense Verdict for Anesthesia Pain Management Group in Montgomery County

Michael O. Pitt obtained a defense verdict for an anesthesia pain management group in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. The plaintiff had a series of stellate ganglion blocks for arm pain, which were performed by several anesthesia pain management physicians. After the last block, the plaintiff developed an infection and eventually osteomyelitis, which were diagnosed approximately seven weeks after the performance of the block. Ten days after the block was performed, the plaintiff presented to one of the anesthesia pain management physicians with pain complaints and a white blood cell count and ESR were ordered to rule out infection. The studies were negative. Two weeks later, the plaintiff presented to his family physician with continued complaints and was referred back to the anesthesia pain management group. He returned to the family physician three weeks later with continued complaints after failing to follow up with the anesthesia pain management physicians. The family physician eventually ordered an MRI and the infection and osteomyelitis were diagnosed. The plaintiff underwent a bone biopsy and was placed on IV antibiotics until the infection and osteomyelitis resolved.

Plaintiff alleged that the anesthesia pain management group and the family physicians delayed the diagnosis and failed to appropriately respond to plaintiff’s complaints. It was alleged that the plaintiff had ongoing neck pain as a result of the delayed diagnosis.

The defendants argued that they reacted appropriately to the plaintiff’s complaints and that any alleged delay did not cause any additional injury. After a one week trial, the jury rendered a verdict for all of the defendants after a very brief deliberation.

Defense Verdict for Family Doctor and Practice in Montgomery County

Tracie A. Vizza obtained a defense verdict for a family doctor and his practice, in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. The case involved a 32 year old man who died from massive, bilateral pulmonary emboli during a visit to a local hospital. A week prior to his trip to the hospital, the decedent called his family doctor’s office, with complaints. A nurse at the practice acted as an intermediary between the patient and the doctor. The doctor prescribed antibiotics for the patient, as well as cough medication and Tylenol, which was noted in the chart. None of the patients complaints were documented in the chart, nor was a diagnosis. Further, the nurse passed away in the interim. The doctor had no recollection of what complaints were relayed to him via his nurse. The decedent’s wife testified that the complaints included significant, recurrent shortness of breath and recurrent chest pain, Seven days later, the patient presented to the emergency department of a local hospital with complaints of shortness of breath and passed away 7 hours later. An autopsy revealed bilateral, massive pulmonary emboli.

Plaintiff’s theory was that the decedent had been suffering from showers of pulmonary emboli as long as a month prior to his death. Plaintiff based this theory on the fact that the decedent had called his family doctor’s office two weeks prior to the telephone call at issue, with complaints of shortness of breath and rib cage pain, and was told to come into the office. The decedent did go to the doctor’s office and get examined by an associate of the defendant, family doctor, in the same practice, who after performing an exam and ordering tests, including a chest x-ray, diagnosed the decedent with pneumonia and treated him with antibiotics. Although plaintiff did not allege negligence in that treatment, plaintiff’s experts testified that the decedent was not suffering from pneumonia at that time, but was instead experiencing pulmonary emboli for the first time. Accordingly, plaintiff alleged that the defendant, family doctor, upon getting the phone call, should have been aware, upon reviewing the decedent’s chart and hearing the complaints, that the earlier diagnosis of pneumonia may have been erroneous and the decedent needed to get worked up for pulmonary emboli. The defense maintained that the pulmonary emboli were a sudden, catastrophic event.

In addition to the family doctor, the emergency room doctor, the pulmonologist, who consulted the patient in the emergency room, and the hospital were all named in the suit. After a two week trial, the jury found in favor of each of the named medical providers, after deliberating for one hour and 45 minutes.

Defense Verdict for Surgeon in Montgomery County

Marshall L. Schwartz obtained a defense verdict in a Montgomery County case in which the plaintiff alleged negligence when his bladder was perforated by a surgeon performing a laparoscopic appendectomy. Plaintiff maintained that if the surgery had been done properly, his bladder would not have been injured. The defense maintained that the surgery was performed within the standard of care and that the injury occurred as a result of an anatomic variance. With the variance, the bladder was higher than would be expected after decompression with a foley catheter and when trocars were entered, one inadvertently caused the perforation. Bladder injury is an accepted risk of the procedure. After a four day trial, the jury rendered a verdict in favor of defendants after a short deliberation.

Defense Verdict in Favor of Orthopaedic Surgeon in Montgomery County

Marshall L. Schwartz obtained a defense verdict in favor of an orthopaedic surgeon following a six day trial in Montgomery County. The plaintiffs alleged that the orthopaedic surgeon breached the standard of care by failing to diagnose the plaintiff-husband as suffering from a displaced left greater tuberosity fracture, failing to order additional diagnostic studies of the plaintiff-husband’s left shoulder, and failing to properly counsel the plaintiffs regarding appropriate treatment options for the patient’s shoulder. Plaintiffs maintained that the orthopaedic surgeon’s alleged negligence caused a delay in the performance of surgery on the plaintiff-husband’s left shoulder, which resulted in permanent stiffness, pain, weakness and degenerative changes to the arm. However, the defense presented evidence that the orthopaedic surgeon properly diagnosed the plaintiff-husband’s condition, ordered appropriate diagnostic studies, and advised the plaintiffs of all reasonable treatment options. Moreover, the defense offered evidence that the plaintiff-husband’s alleged injuries were not proximately caused by the orthopaedic-surgeon’s conduct. Following a brief deliberation, the jury returned a verdict in the orthopaedic-surgeon’s favor, finding that he did not deviate from the standard of care in treating the plaintiff-husband.