ARTICLE ID 28345
$________ INCLUDING $________ PUNITIVE AWARD - MEDICAL MALPRACTICE - ASSAULT AND BATTERY - FRAUD - TREATING OTOLARYNGOLOGIST ASSURES PLAINTIFF PATIENT THAT HE WILL PERFORM SURGERY TO CORRECT DEVIATED SEPTUM - SURGERY NOT PERFORMED BY TREATING OTOLARYNGOLOGIST, BUT INSTEAD, PERFORMED BY MEDICAL RESIDENT - SUBSTANDARD CARE RENDERED BY ANESTHESIOLOGIST, NURSE ANESTHETIST, RESIDENT AND TREATING OTOLARYNGOLOGIST IN PERMITTING PLAINTIFF TO BE PREMATURELY EXTUBATED - ASPHYXIA - PERSISTENT VEGETATIVE STATE.
Cuyahoga County, Ohio
This action was brought on behalf of the female plaintiff, age 57
at the time of the events in question, against the defendant
Cleveland Clinic where the plaintiff underwent surgery performed
by her treating otolaryngologist (ENT specialist) to correct a
deviated septum. It was contended that the plaintiff was
prematurely extubated by the defendants employee nurse
anesthetist and that the defendants employee medical resident
performing the surgery failed to prevent the premature
extubation. Neither the treating ENT, nor the anesthesiologist in
charge of the anesthesiology aspect of the plaintiffs care (both
employees of the defendant hospital), were present at the time of
the premature extubation. It was additionally alleged that the
plaintiff was assured by the treating ENT that he would be
performing the procedure. The plaintiff alleged that the treating
ENT committed a fraud as well as a battery by operating on the
plaintiff without informing her that a resident would be
performing the surgery. The plaintiffs cause of action proceeded
on theories of negligence (medical malpractice), fraud and
battery. The plaintiff asserted a claim for both compensatory and p 7 3
The plaintiff was diagnosed by the treating ENT as suffering from
a deviated septum. He characterized the severity of the condition
as moderate to severe and recommended surgery. The plaintiff
contended that the defendant assured her that he would be
performing the surgery. The plaintiff was never advised that a
medical resident would actually be performing the operation,
according to the plaintiffs evidence.
The surgery was, in fact, performed by a medical resident. The
evidence indicated that the plaintiffs anesthesia was being
administered and monitored by a nurse anesthetist. The nurse
anesthetist was overseen by the attending anesthesiologist, who
was not present in the room when the plaintiff was extubated. The
evidence demonstrated that the plaintiff was prematurely
extubated by the nurse anesthetist, resulting in asphyxia and
permanent brain damage.
The medical resident performing the surgery testified that he was
unaware of the parameters within which a patient could be safely
extubated and that he left this aspect of the patients care to
the anesthesiologist. The treating ENT testified that he was
knowledgeable concerning the extubation parameters and could
safely determine when a patient was ready or not ready to be
extubated. Based upon this testimony, the plaintiff argued that
if the defendant had performed the surgery as he assured the
plaintiff he would, he would have determined that the plaintiff
was not ready to be extubated and the asphyxia and resulting
brain damage would have been avoided. The plaintiff additionally
argued that the attending anesthesiologist was also negligent in
failing to be present during the extubation to ensure the well-
being of the patient.
The plaintiff alleged that the failure of the treating ENT to
advise the plaintiff that a medical resident would be performing
the procedure and the ENTs actions in falsely assuring the
plaintiff that he would be performing the surgery when such was
not the case constituted medical battery and fraud.
The defendant clinic admitted liability for the medical
negligence aspect of the plaintiffs claims at the start of the
trial. The defendant denied, however, that fraud or medical
battery had occurred and maintained that because Cleveland Clinic
was a teaching institution, medical residents routinely
substituted for treating surgeons or other physicians. The
defendant maintained that this practice was appropriate and
reasonable and that the clinic could not be found liable on a
battery or fraud theory of liability.
On the issue of damages, the evidence established that the
plaintiff suffered profound brain damage as a result of the
premature extubation and will remain in a persistent vegetative
state for the remainder of her life expectancy. The plaintiff
presented past medical specials of $________ and future medicals
of $________. The plaintiff additionally claimed lost income of
The plaintiff contended that the evidence establishing medical
battery and fraud demonstrated a conscious disregard of the
plaintiffs rights which rose to the level of maliciousness such
to substantiate an award of punitive damages against the p 7 3
defendant clinic. On this issue, the plaintiff elicited testimony
from the defendant clinics financial officer regarding the
clinics net worth. Net worth of the clinic in the amount of
$________ was presented to the jury.
The plaintiffs last demand prior to trial was $________. The
defendants highest offer was $________. The jury found for the
plaintiff and returned a verdict of $________ in compensatory
damages and $________ in punitive damages.
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