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 plaintiffs
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
plaintiffs experts. The plaintiffs experts opined that a 34 mm
tricuspid ring was inserted, rather than the required 26 mm
mitral ring for this patient.
The plaintiffs 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 plaintiffs 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
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 plaintiffs 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 plaintiffs 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 plaintiffs experts.
The plaintiff additionally contended that rather than correcting
the plaintiffs 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 plaintiffs
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.