On August 27, 2015, after a four-day trial and two-and-a-half hours of deliberations, a Virginia medical malpractice jury returned a verdict in favor of a Virginia hospital and a nurse in a medical malpractice/wrongful death case filed by the widow of a man who was declared brain dead after he underwent two heart surgeries on the same day.
The man had heart surgery on August 24, 2012 at the defendant hospital. The defendant nurse was responsible for the care of the man immediately after the surgery. The man’s widow filed the Virginia medical malpractice lawsuit, alleging that the nurse breached the standard of care by failing to telephone the man’s attending physician when a monitor attached to the man showed data that was below normal limits.
The monitor showed that the patient’s central venous pressure (“CVP”) fell below what was considered the normal range in the hours before the man’s death. The CVP reading later returned to within the normal range. Nonetheless, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant nurse was required to call the attending physician at home to advise him of the abnormal reading, which the plaintiff alleged would have resulted in timely and appropriate medical intervention that would have saved her husband’s life.
The defendants contended that the standard of care did not require the nurse to contact the attending physician at home. In support of their position, the defendants hired a Florida-based thoracic surgeon who specializes in cardiac surgery to testify during trial that had the defendant nurse called him at home to report the CVP readings, he would not have returned to the hospital to evaluate the patient and he would have said “thank you very much” and then hung up the telephone. The attorneys for the parties to the Virginia medical malpractice case believe that the defendant expert’s testimony was critical in the jury determining that the defendants’ actions or omissions did not cause or contribute to the man’s death, thereby resulting in the defense verdict.
After the Virginia medical malpractice jury returned its defense verdict, one of the plaintiff’s lawyers stated, “I thought the first three days of trial went exceedingly well for the plaintiff. But clearly the expert for the [defendant hospital], whom they paid $20,000 to testify, created doubts in the minds of the jurors as to the cause of death.”
The plaintiff indicated that she would appeal the defense verdict, stating, “I was disappointed but I wasn’t surprised. I knew that this was a long shot, and I was going up against a big opponent. I owe it to [my husband] to try and find the answers.”
If you or a loved one suffered an unexpected injury or death following surgery in Virginia or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a Virginia medical malpractice attorney or a medical malpractice attorney in your U.S. state who may investigate your surgical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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