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SETTLEMENT-Vascular, pancreatic injury during surgery leads to death

Communication failures cited for misdiagnosis, unperformed intervention

 Donna Weyek, serving as personal representative of the Estate of Mary Roush, sought compensatory damages from defendant Henry Ford Health System (HFHS) on claims of medical malpractice and wrongful death. Roush was referred to HFHS for evaluation of an "entirely asymptomatic" adrenal mass by her treating urologist. Diagnostic imaging demonstrated the mass was benign. Given the size and benign nature of the mass, no surgical intervention was warranted. HFHS urologists undertook surgery anyway, telling Roush it would be a simple robotic procedure and she would be discharged the next day.

At deposition, one of the urologists admitted that the surgery was ill advised, claiming that he undertook it because the patient insisted. The urologist's reasoning was contrary to his own operative report and records.

At the outset of the surgery, a resident urologist caused vascular and pancreatic injury by overpenetration of a surgical instrument (Veress needle). Neither Roush nor her family was told of the complication.

Roush's condition deteriorated rapidly, with hypotension and extended blood loss progressing to respiratory failure. She required intubation and was placed in a critical care unit. There she was found to have pancreatitis and multisystem organ failure.

Due to communication failures between the urologists and the critical care service, the etiology of the pancreatic injury was misdiagnosed and proper interventions were not timely performed. Roush developed abdominal compartment syndrome, suffered brain damage and eventually died two weeks later.

Keys to the $600,000 settlement included establishing the proper foundation for full medical expense damages versus the lien amounts, and establishing a high-cap brain injury using defendant's own neurologic examinations.

Types of actions: Wrongful death, medical malpractice

Type of injuries: Vascular and pancreatic injury causing multisystem organ failure, brain damage and death

Name of case: Weyek, et al. v. Henry Ford Hospital

Court/Case no./Date: Wayne County Circuit Court; 10-009304-NH; April 26, 2012

Tried before: Mediation

Name of judge: Jeanne Stempien

Settlement amount: $600,000

Most helpful experts: Dr. Dudley Danoff, urology, Los Angeles; Dr. Jonathan Vapnek, urology, New York; Dr. Anthony Borzotta, critical care surgery, Blue Ash, Ohio

Insurance carrier: Self-insured

Attorneys for plaintiff: Stephen Goethel, Chad Engelhardt

Attorney(s) for defendant: Withheld

Source:  MI Lawyers Weekly

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