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Orange County, FL

This wrongful death action was tried against the defendant orthopedic surgeon and his incorporated medical practice. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant deviated from the required standard of care in failing to order prophylactic chemical anti-coagulant therapy following surgery. The plaintiff also contended that the 60-year-old decedent was prematurely discharged from the hospital. As a result, the plaintiff maintained that the decedent developed deep venous thrombosis (“DVT”), which resulted in a pulmonary embolus causing her death. The defendant maintained that hospital nurses did not advise him of the decedent’s condition (nauseous and vomiting) prior to her discharge, and that there was no reason to prescribe DVT chemical prophylaxis.

The decedent sustained an elbow fracture in August of ________. In a continuing attempt to repair the elbow damage, the decedent underwent surgery performed by the defendant on September 17, ________. The decedent was released from the hospital by the defendant on September 18, ________, and died of a pulmonary embolus on September 21, ________, three days after her discharge. She was 60 years old.

The plaintiff’s pulmonary expert testified that the lack of DVT chemical prophylaxis post-operatively, and the fact that the decedent was sent home prematurely, caused a deep venous thrombosis, which lead to pulmonary embolus and death. This expert, as well as the plaintiff’s orthopedic surgery expert, opined that the decedent’s pre-operative risk factors, including: Surgery, prolonged general anesthesia, weight, age, hormone therapy, and reduced mobility required DVT prophylaxis post-operatively. The plaintiff’s economist estimated that the decedent and her children suffered an economic loss of $________.

During the defendant’s case in chief, the defense played the videotaped testimony of the plaintiff’s pulmonary expert, in which the expert stated that chemical prophylaxis (Lovenox) would not be contemplated for a patient who was nauseous and vomiting on discharge. Per the testimony of the decedent’s husband, the decedent was nauseous and vomiting at time of discharge, making Lovenox contraindicated, according to the defense. The pulmonary expert retained by the plaintiff further testified that the defendant doctor would not expect the decedent to be immobile following her discharge from the hospital, and that the defendant should have been contacted by the nursing staff regarding the decedent’s nauseous condition prior to discharge.

The defendant’s pulmonologist and orthopedic surgeon testified that there was no need for mechanical or chemical prophylaxis for a patient, such as the decedent who was undergoing upper extremity orthopedic surgery.

The defendant contended that, had he been made aware that the decedent’s was nauseous and vomiting, he would not have discharged her, but rather would have reassessed her. The defense contended that the doctor was not contacted by the hospital nursing staff with regard to the decedent’s condition on the day of discharge. The jury found no negligence on the part of the defendant, which was a legal cause of injury to the decedent.

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