A 60-year-old woman who had foot surgery died from blood clots that formed in her lower extremities and traveled to her heart and lungs. The woman’s husband of 36 years filed a Florida medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit against the defendant foot surgeon, contending that he failed to read the 15-page report from an internal medicine specialist who had performed an examination of the woman in preparation and clearance for her surgery.
The defendant surgeon admitted that he did not read the pre-op clearance report because he has delegated to his surgical coordinator the responsibility to read pre-op reports for surgical clearance. The defendant’s surgical coordinator testified that she was trained to only look for the word “cleared” in such reports.
The internal medicine doctor’s pre-op report noted that the patient was taking the prescription medication Evista, which is an estrogen modulator used to treat and prevent osteoporosis in women.
The manufacturer’s package insert for Evista comes with the following black-box warning: “WARNING: INCREASED RISK OF VENOUS THROMBOEMBOLISM AND DEATH FROM STROKE See full prescribing information for complete boxed warning. • Increased risk of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism have been reported with EVISTA (5.1). Women with active or past history of venous thromboembolism should not take EVISTA (4.1).” The package insert also states: “WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS • Venous Thromboembolism: Increased risk of deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, and retinal vein thrombosis. Discontinue use 72 hours prior to and during prolonged immobilization. (5.1, 6.1)” Source
At the time the woman was discharged from the hospital after her foot surgery, she was instructed to begin retaking Evista immediately, which she did during her six-week recovery time during which she had very limited mobility.
The husband’s Florida medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit alleged that the defendants breached the standard of care by failing to read the pre-op report and by failing to properly instruct the woman with regard to her use of Evista.
The Florida medical malpractice wrongful death trial lasted seven days after which the jury deliberated for about nine hours before returning its verdict that found the defendant foot surgeon 57% responsible for the woman’s death, the surgeon’s physician’s assistant 8% responsible, and the woman 35% contributorily negligent for her own death (the defense argued that the woman negligently failed to contact the physician who had prescribed Evista for her, as that physician had requested, before she resumed taking the medication).
The Florida medical malpractice wrongful death jury awarded $405,000 to the woman’s husband for his loss of her support and services; an additional $425,000 for his pain, suffering, loss of companionship, and loss of protection; and, $630,000 for his wife’s medical expenses and funeral expenses. The jury’s award of $1.46 million was reduced to $949,000, to reflect the percentage of the woman’s responsibility for her own death, as determined by the jury.
If you or a loved one may have been harmed as a result of medical malpractice in Florida or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a Florida medical malpractice lawyer, or a medical malpractice lawyer in your state, who may investigate your medical negligence claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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