Firm Partner Peter A. Schmit succeeded in obtaining a $410,000 pre-suit settlement in a medical malpractice case involving a failure to timely diagnose post-operative bleeding resulting in the death of a 46-year-old man. Read the following Minnesota Case Report, Vol.29, No.2, November, 2010.
(Excerpts taken with permission from Minnesota Trial Lawyer Association’s (MTLA) “Minnesota Case Reports”)
D.P., a 46-year-old Native American, was admitted to a northern hospital with a diagnosis of acute appendicitis. He was taken to the operating room urgently for a laparoscopic appendectomy. Following surgery, D.P. was admitted to PACU where his blood pressure dropped, his pulse increased, his temperature increased and his pain increased. Clinical signs were communicated to Dr. S. who ordered narcotics. D.P.'s D.P.'s blood pressure continued to fall and a rapid response team was called. Lab work was obtained which was abnormal and a physician who was consulted thought D.P. was suffering from "sepsis, bleeding is a possibility." D.P. was transferred to the ICU and a CT scan was obtained. The CT scan revealed hemorrhage in the abdomen and pelvis and the report indicted the findings were discussed with the responsible physician. Despite receiving blood products over the next several hours, D.P.'s clinical condition did not improve and, ultimately, D.P. went into cardiac and respiratory arrest. Resuscitation was not successful and the autopsy report concluded D.P. died from exsanguination due to intra abdominal bleeding.
Experts retained by D.P.'s next of kin including a general surgeon and a critical care nurse opined that the caregivers were negligent in the care and treatment including, among other things, a negligent response to post-operative bleeding and a negligent failure to timely respond to evidence of deterioration. Life expectancy and damages were hotly contested. In essence, defendants pointed out that due to D.P.'s underlying health issues (diabetes, coronary artery disease, hypertension, hyperlipidemia) he had a much shortened life expectancy. Defendant's also pointed out that he was not married and that his children were independent adults, not relying on D.P. for any economic support. Evidence was that D.P was very well liked in the community and provided non-economic support to his adult children, grandchildren and to a significant other.