On September 6, 2013, a Maryland medical malpractice jury returned its verdict in the amount of $5.5 million in favor of the estate of a 53-year-old woman and her surviving daughter for the death of the woman when she bled to death within minutes after improperly placed temporary cardiac pacing wires lacerated her cardiac graft as the wires were being removed. Immediately after the wires were removed and lacerated her graft, the woman reportedly sat straight up in bed and exclaimed, “I think I am dying,” and then died within minutes.
The woman had open heart surgery on February 1, 2011 because she had multiple blocked coronary arteries. The surgery included the placement of a cardiac graft and the temporary insertion of cardiac pacing wires that were intended to be removed days later. The open heart surgery itself was apparently successful but the plaintiffs alleged that the heart surgeon improperly located the pacing wires too close to the graft in the woman’s chest. When a nurse removed the temporary cardiac pacing wires on February 6, 2011, the wires allegedly touched and lacerated the graft that had been placed five days earlier. The woman bled out and died within minutes of the incident.
The defense argued that the wire contacted the graft because the heart had changed in size since the surgery five days earlier and there was clotting around her heart. The heart surgeon and his two assisting surgeons could not recall who placed the temporary cardiac pacing wires in the woman’s chest or where in her chest they were placed. The medical records from the surgery did not indicate who implanted the cardiac pacing wires.
The four-day trial ended with the Maryland medical malpractice jury awarding $3.5 million to the woman’s daughter for her noneconomic damages (mental anguish, loss of companionship, etc.) due to her mother’s death and an additional $2 million to the woman’s estate, for the woman’s conscious pain and suffering between the time of the incident and her death minutes later. The Maryland cap on noneconomic damages will likely reduce the jury’s award to $695,000.
The plaintiffs’ lawyer commented after the jury’s verdict, “It was a difficult trial. There were tears flowing. It was difficult to hear Ms. Davis relate her life with her mom and the jury was crying with her. It was an emotional trial.”
Source: The Daily Record, September 11, 2013. Kimberly Davis, et al. v. Sanjiv Lakhanpal, MD, et al., Circuit Court for Prince George’s County, Case No. CAL12-13546.
It is hard to imagine the thoughts that went through the woman’s mind when she realized that she was dying. Did she think about her daughter? Did she fear the unknown? How much conscious pain and suffering did she experience?
If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries (or worse) as a result of possible medical malpractice in Maryland or in another state in the United States, you should promptly seek the advice of a Maryland medical malpractice attorney or a medical malpractice attorney in your state who may investigate your malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice lawsuit, if appropriate.
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