Medical Malpractice Case Report: $750,000 settlement for failure to provide prophylactic deep vein thrombosis medication resulting in fatal pulmonary embolism

June 2008

Firm partner Peter A. Schmit achieved a settlement of $725,000,on the behalf of a the family of a 48-year-old man in a failure to diagnose medical malpractice case involving a failure to provide deep vein thrombosis medication leading to pulmonary embolism (blood clot in lung) and death.  Read the following Minnesota Association for Justice (MAJ) Minnesota Case Report, Vol.27, No.3, June, 2008

Selected Results*

(Excerpts taken with permission from Minnesota Trial Lawyer Association's (MTLA) "Minnesota Case Reports")

Court: Western North Dakota

B.D. a 48-year old farm laborer, fell and became wedged between two field trucks on March 17, 2004. He was admitted to the local hospital where a CT scan revealed fractures of the sacrum, pubic ramus and inferior ramus. During his hospitalization, B.D. was examined by a physician who noted the need to do intermittent compression of B.D.ís lower extremities for prophylaxis of deep vein thrombosis rather than use anticoagulants in the acute phase of his injury. A few days later, a different physician examined B.D. who noted that it would take 6-8 weeks to heal well enough to allow B.D. to return to work. B.D. had significant pain from his pelvic fractures. He started physical therapy. Despite the recognition of the need for prophylactic treatment, all B.D. received while hospitalized was Jobst compression to his lower extremities for 20-30 minutes each day. No prophylactic anticoagulation treatment was given during his hospitalization or after discharge. On March 26, B.D. was discharged from the hospital.  On March 30, B.D. collapsed. Resuscitation was not successful.

Autopsy revealed B.D. died of an acute pulmonary embolism due to deep vein thrombosis as a complication of pelvic fracture. Plaintiff's experts, board certified specialists in the fields of family practice, trauma and pulmonology, concluded defendants were negligent for failing to appreciate the risk factors for the development of pulmonary embolism and failing to protect B.D. from developing a pulmonary embolism by initiating appropriate deep vein thrombosis prophylactics. As a result, B.D. died. 

An issue of some dispute was the level of ambulation B.D. enjoyed prior to discharge from the hospital. Standard of care depends in part on whether patients are able to ambulate at the time of discharge. B.D. was survived by a widow, adult child and minor child. Establishing economic loss was challenging given B.D.'s occupation and the fact that some of the compensation B.D.received was in the form of bartering.

Settlement: $725,000 ($500,000 non-economic cap)

Attorney:  Peter A. Schmit , Esq., Robins,Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, L.L.P., Minneapolis, MN (612) 349-8778

Peter A. Schmit


Chair, National Personal Injury and Medical Malpractice Group

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