March 11, 2015

Contact:  Eric W. Boyer, Esq.
Managing Partner
305.670.1101 Ext. 1023



Medical Malpractice Defense/Wrongful Death


Robert Cousins


Scott Sankey

FORT MYERS, Florida ― Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A. (QPWB) attorneys Robert J. Cousins, managing partner of the Fort Myers office and Scott C. Sankey, a partner in the Fort Lauderdale office, received a complete defense verdict on behalf of their client, a Board Certified Pulmonologist and Critical Care specialist, on allegations of medical malpractice. The eight-day trial concluded after jury deliberations of one hour and 10 minutes.
The plaintiff underwent a carotid endarterectomy to remove significant blockage in the internal carotid artery.  During the surgery there was bleeding which required transfusion of three units of blood.
Following the surgery the patient demonstrated stroke-like symptoms and was admitted to the intensive care unit. Our client, a Board Certified Pulmonologist and Critical Care specialist followed the patient in the ICU.
On the second day following admission, the patient demonstrated agitation and other signs consistent with alcohol withdrawal and also developed respiratory difficulties which ultimately required intubation. It was determined that the patient had developed aspiration pneumonia.
The patient appeared to be improving and it was decided to have him transferred from the intensive care unit to a monitored room.  However, during the evening the patient developed blood in his urine and remained in the ICU. The defendant saw the patient the next morning and noted that there was urinary bleeding and a drop in hemoglobin from 9.4 to 8.2.  It was the defendant’s assessment that the patient was not yet a candidate for additional blood transfusions.  He ordered a repeat hemoglobin which was taken six hours later. That test showed the hemoglobin had dropped to 6.8, defined by the lab as a critical value.  Before blood could be administered, the patient suddenly appeared confused, demonstrated rapid breathing, his pupils became large and fixed and a Code Blue was called. During the Code Blue, the patient was intubated, CPR was administered but the heart was never shocked or defibrillated.  The patient remained unresponsive. After several days, further medical interventions were discontinued and the patient died. The decedent was survived by his wife. They had been married for over 50 years.
The plaintiff claimed that the decedent suffered a cardiac arrest caused by hypovolemia due to the severe urinary tract bleeding. They asserted that as a result the plaintiff suffered multi organ failure due to ischemia and poor perfusion of the tissues. Plaintiffs’ expert opined that if blood had been administered sooner the cardiac arrest would not have occurred and the cascade of events could have been avoided.
Based on the vital signs and the lack of interventions during the Code Blue procedures, the defense was able to demonstrate that the patient most likely suffered a respiratory arrest unrelated to any blood loss or hypovolemia.  The defense also argued that the complications and ultimate death were caused by infection and septic shock and not from blood loss. A private autopsy, performed by the pathologist hired immediately after the death, demonstrated the presence of pneumonia as well as extensive infection in the abdominal cavity. The autopsy also revealed a perforated bowel diverticulum, findings consistent with the defense’s position that the death was caused by sepsis and septic shock.
Following an eight day trial, the jury deliberated for one hour and 10 minutes before returning a complete defense verdict.

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