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$________ - MEDICAL MALPRACTICE - CARDIOVASCULAR SURGERY - NEGLIGENT USE OF WRONG SIZE AND TYPE OF RING DURING COURSE OF MITRAL VALVE REPAIR - FAILURE TO ADMINISTER SUFFICIENT PROTECTION TO THE HEART IN THE COURSE OF CARDIOPULMONARY BYPASS - SEVERE HEART FAILURE - PERMANENT NEED FOR VENTILATOR - NEGLIGENCE OF PULMONARY CARE SPECIALISTS IN FAILING TO PROPERLY MANAGE PULMONARY CARE FOLLOWING HEART FAILURE RESULTS IN FURTHER DAMAGE, INCLUDING ESOPHAGEAL FISTULA AND REPEATED ASPIRATION OF FOOD INTO LUNGS - RECURRENT PNEUMONIAS AND REPEATED BLOOD INFECTIONS - 14-MONTH HOSPITALIZATION - COMPLETE INABILITY TO SPEAK FOR 18 MONTHS - PERMANENT LIMITATION OF VOCAL ABILITIES.

Cuyahoga County, Ohio (29049)

This medical malpractice action was brought by a 71-year-old female plaintiff, who suffered permanent and disabling injuries due to the negligence of the medical defendants named in the subject action in failing to provide her with adequate medical treatment while she remained under their care. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant cardiothoracic surgery group and the two individual defendant physicians in charge of her surgery negligently failed to use the proper size and type ring, and failed to provide sufficient protection to the heart during the cardiopulmonary bypass. The plaintiff additionally contended that the defendant pulmonology specialists and the supporting staff (therapists and nurses) who treated the plaintiff’s respiratory condition postoperatively, negligently failed to properly manage her respiratory problems, causing further injury to the plaintiff. The previously active plaintiff suffered severe complications which have left her permanently disabled, disfigured and bedridden. She suffered multiple infections and was required have both of her legs surgically amputated.

The plaintiff presented to the cardiovascular surgeons at the codefendant Southwest General Health Center on May 1, ________, for elective mitral valve repair and coronary artery bypass surgery.

The two defendant cardiovascular surgeons negligently used the wrong size and type of ring for the repair, according to the plaintiff’s experts. The plaintiff’s experts opined that a 34 mm tricuspid ring was inserted, rather than the required 26 mm mitral ring for this patient.

The plaintiff’s experts additionally stated that the defendant p 7 3 cardiovascular surgeons negligently failed to sufficiently protect the heart during the course of the cardiopulmonary bypass. The plaintiff’s experts concluded that as a consequence of the defendants’ negligence, the plaintiff went into severe heart failure and could not be weaned from a ventilator postoperatively.

Two subsequent treating pulmonologists, to whom the plaintiff was referred after suffering heart failure and becoming ventilator dependent, saw the plaintiff several days post-cardiac surgery and agreed to manage the plaintiff’s respiratory and ventilator problems. The defendant pulmonologists were employed by the codefendant Ohio Crest Physicians. Together, with the respiratory therapists and nurses employed by the codefendant Southwest, they coordinated management of the plaintiff’s respiratory problems.

A tracheostomy was performed on the fifteenth postoperative day.

The plaintiff contended that following the tracheostomy, the plaintiff was improperly positioned in a forward-leaning, upright posture, which caused her trachea to stretch. As a result, she developed a progressively worsening air leak around the tracheostomy tube, according to the plaintiff’s experts.

The plaintiff additionally contended that rather than correcting the plaintiff’s positioning and making other necessary changes to the tracheostomy tube and connecting apparatus, the pulmonary physicians and the respiratory therapists, employed by Southwest, negligently utilized massively high pressures in the tracheostomy cuff while there was a nasogastric tube in place. The plaintiff alleged that these actions caused injury to the plaintiff’s tracheal wall and caused necrosis, resulting in the formation of a fistula, i.e., a communication between the trachea and the esophagus (medically termed a "TE fistula"), which the defendants thereafter failed to timely diagnose.

Because of the TE fistula, the plaintiff repeatedly aspirated tube feedings into her lungs, which caused multiple, recurring infections. Despite knowledge that she was indeed aspirating the tube feedings in to her lungs, the defendants continued to administer tube feedings into her stomach instead of feeding her by an alternate method.

As a consequence of the defendants’ malpractice, the plaintiff suffered severe and recurrent pneumonias and repeated blood infections. She also developed an infection in the breastbone, and an infection around the heart. Ultimately, at the insistence of the family, she was transferred to another hospital. At the time of her transfer, she was near death.

The plaintiff remained hospitalized for 14 months following her transfer. Ultimately, she survived with intact mental faculties, but with multiple, severe physical injuries.

As a consequence of the defendants’ negligence, the plaintiff is essentially bedridden and has lost both legs. She requires around-the-clock nursing care. In addition, she continues to require ventilator support at night. She also requires lifelong feeding through her veins and will never again be able to eat.

The plaintiff suffers from numerous other complications, including recurrent infections, fistulous tracts, deafness, and skin problems, all of which were proximately caused by the negligence of the defendants. The plaintiff was completely unable p 7 3 to speak for more than eighteen months because of the TE fistula, and still has only limited voice capability.