Final Verdict: No Error In Liver Bleed
One of the most difficult things in any medical malpractice case is distinguishing between injuries caused by medical error and injuries caused by an underlying condition. In the latter case, the underlying condition can be a separate, unknown factor, a factor known to the physician and patient that could not be avoided, or even the very malady that the medical procedure was intended to remedy. Even when the presence of a medical error is obvious, it isn’t always easy to demonstrate that the medical error itself was the cause of the patient’s negative prognosis, pain, suffering, and added medical expenses.
No medical malpractice attorney who understands the difficulty of these cases will ever guarantee an outcome. However, it is safe to say that the more general the injury, in the end, the more challenging a case will be to prove. It may be fairly straightforward to show that a perforated lung could only have been caused by a specific surgical technique, but it can be much more difficult to show that general breathing problems trace to a particular prescription drug rather than another overall process.
In November of 2012, 60-year-old retiree Amritpal Achreja was suffering from chronic and ongoing inflammation of his gallbladder and went into Adventist Healthcare for a procedure to be conducted by an interventional radiologist operating in the ICU. The doctor planned to do a cholecystostomy, a procedure that involves creating an open space in the gallbladder that can then facilitate drainage through a simultaneously-placed tube catheter placed through the liver.
During the procedure, however, Mr. Achreja began experiencing severe bleeding from his liver. His doctor attempted a repair and left the catheter tube in place in the gallbladder. However, Mr. Achreja stated that although he eventually made a recovery, he sustained prolonged and ongoing bleeding. He hired Donald Discepolo, a medical malpractice attorney, who sued the doctor and Adventist Healthcare for medical malpractice, surgical error, radiology malpractice, a lack of informed consent, and negligent treatment.
Prior to trial, Adventist Healthcare was dismissed from the suit, meaning that the case proceeded with Mr. Achreja’s doctor as the only defendant. The trial lasted for four days and included testimony from experts hired by both sides. Mr. Achreja’s attorney argued that the prolonged bleeding was caused by negligence on the part of his doctor and was not a normal or expected risk of the planned procedure. The defense argued that placing the catheter through the liver was a normal and accepted technique. They also argued that the doctor did not do or fail to do anything which violated any standard of medical care.
After deliberating for less than one hour, the jury finally returned with a verdict stating that Mr. Achreja’s doctor was not negligent and owed no damages to him. If you are ever in the unfortunate situation of needing a personal injury attorney to help you with a medical malpractice claim, contact Cohen & Cohen.