Contemporary SurgeryMALPRACTICE MINUTE
Patient dies after colectomy:348
Was PE prophylaxis appropriate?
Liable or not? You decide
We give you facts of an actual malpractice case. Render your verdict below, see how your colleagues ruled, and then view the actual decision.
A man in his 50s had a sigmoid colectomy for recurrent episodes of diverticulitis.
Immediately after the operation, the surgeon ordered mechanical compression of the lower extremities and told the patient to ambulate three times a day.
Mechanical compression was halted on postoperative day two. On day three, the patient complained of shortness of breath. A chest x-ray was ordered and pulmonary consult obtained, but the patient went into arrest and died.
The care team should have prescribed medication to avoid pulmonary embolism.
The defendant surgeon maintained the patient received appropriate prophylaxis for PE.
Case excerpted from Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements and Experts, with permission of the editor, Lewis Laska, Nashville, TN (www.verdictslaska.com).
Answer to July's MALPRACTICE MINUTE:
GI hemorrhage causes death after esophageal mass is removed
ONLINE POLL: LIABLE, 77%; NOT LIABLE, 23%
VERDICT: The court found the defendant surgeons not liable.