On January 12, 2015, an Arkansas medical malpractice jury determined that a Mountain Home, Arkansas physician was not at fault for the death of a 45-year-old patient in 2005. The jury took less than one hour after six days of trial to return its verdict in favor of the physician. The Arkansas medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that the defendant physician was responsible for the cardiac arrest death suffered by the man.
The man was a local pharmacist who was brought by ambulance from a local hospital to another hospital for treatment of pneumonia on December 13, 2005. The defendant physician treated the man in the second hospital. The pharmacist had a heart attack the same day and died three days later.
The medical malpractice plaintiffs had sought between $4 million and $5 million in compensatory damages from the defendant physician. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendant had negligently failed to perform multiple arterial blood gas tests, had negligently failed to establish a central venous line, and had negligently failed to intubate the man. The plaintiffs’ three medical experts who testified during the trial stated that had the defendant physician properly monitored the man’s pH level and oxygen level by ordering multiple arterial blood gas tests and had the physician intubated the man in order to protect his airway and put in a central line, the man would not have died (they testified that there was a 9% to 22% chance that the man would have died regardless of medical intervention).
The defense called a medical expert at trial who testified that the man’s death was due to sudden cardiac arrest that likely was caused by the onset of sepsis related to the man’s pneumonia, and that the probability of the man dying regardless of medical intervention was between 20% and 40%. The expert further testified that the medical interventions that the plaintiffs’ three medical experts testified were required, were not necessary.
The defendant physician testified during cross-examination at trial that a central line would have been beneficial when the man crashed but he denied that a central line would have prevented the patient’s death.
The defendant’s attorney told the jury during closing argument, “People die sometimes despite receiving the best care we can provide. We don’t always know the why’s of how someone died. It’s heart-rendering, there’s no doubt. A verdict against [the defendant physician] tells him he caused this man’s death. That would be the wrong verdict.”
If you or a family member were injured (or worse) as a result of medical care in a hospital in Arkansas or in another U.S. state, you should promptly seek the legal advice of an Arkansas medical malpractice lawyer, or a medical malpractice lawyer in your state, who may investigate your hospital negligence claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case against a hospital and/or other medical provider(s), if appropriate.
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