verdicts and settlements
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Date of Verdict:

June 7.

Court and Case No.:

C.P. Philadelphia No. 130601746.

Judge:

Karen Shreeves-Johns.

Type of Action:

Wrongful death.

Injuries:

Hypercalcemic cardiac arrest, death.

Plaintiffs Counsel:

Joe H. Tucker Jr., Jesse C. Klaproth, Tucker Law Group, Philadelphia.

Defense Counsel:

J. Michael Doyle, Post & Schell, Philadelphia.

Plaintiffs Expert:

Dr. Alexander Weingarten, pain management, Syosset, New York.

Defense Expert:

Dr. Jeffrey P. Jacobs, cardiothoracic surgery, St. Petersburg, Florida; Dr. Francis McGowan Jr., pediatric anesthesiologist, Philadelphia.

Comment:

A Philadelphia jury awarded $1.3 million to the estate of an infant who died following a heart transplant procedure.

According to the plaintiff’s pretrial conference memorandum, decedent Adrian Wilson was born May 24, 2011, at Temple University Hospital and then was transferred to St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. Adrian was diagnosed in utero with hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), mitral stenosis with aortic atresia and restrictive intra-atrial septum.

The plaintiff’s memorandum said the treatment for HLHS is called a Norwood operation, or a heart transplant. On May 25, 2011, Adrian underwent this procedure, which was performed by Dr. Achintya Moulick and Dr. Randy Stevens, both of whom were voluntarily dismissed as defendants prior to trial, along with Tenet Healthsystem St. Christopher’s Hospital For Children LLC, Tenet Healthsystem Philadelphia Inc. and Healthsystem Medical Inc. Adrian’s chest was electively left open during the procedure, and he slowly stabilized over the next 10 days.

On June 6, 2011, according to the plaintiff’s memorandum, Adrian underwent a delayed sternal closure procedure, during which multiple doses of calcium chloride were administered by defendant Dr. Veronica Swanson and certified registered nurse anesthetist, Joe Dlugoz.

Immediately following the sternal closure procedure, Adrian became hypercalcemic and bradycardic and suffered a hypercalcemic cardiac arrest. Adrian died June 15, 2011, according to court documents.

Plaintiffs pain management expert Dr. Alexander Weingarten said in his report that, because of a nationwide shortage of calcium gluconate, calcium chloride was substituted in the preparation of the IV calcium administered to Adrian. Calcium chloride contains about three times the elemental calcium per cubic centimeter that calcium gluconate contains, Weingarten said in his report.

Adrian was given a total of 470 mg of calcium chloride during and after the procedure, which “far exceeded the recommended dose,” Weingarten said in his report.

Defense expert Dr. Francis McGowan Jr., a pediatric anesthesiologist, said in his own report, however, that Adrian’s cardiac arrest was not caused by the calcium dosing or acute hypercalcemia. Instead, McGowan said in his report that the timing of the cardiac arrest was “entirely consistent with rapid and progressive hemodynamic deterioration due to the chest closure itself.”

The defense’s pediatric cardiothoracic surgery expert, Dr. Jeffrey P. Jacobs, said in his own report that children with HLHS who undergo heart transplants have a very high mortality rate.

The defense argued in its memorandum that calcium chloride was given in small increments on an as-needed basis and that Adrian’s death was the result of increased pressure on his already fragile heart during the sternal closure procedure.

But the plaintiff’s memorandum said Adrian’s death was the result of negligence on the part of Swanson in administering the calcium chloride. The plaintiff’s memorandum also alleged that the hospital never told Bianca Swanson—Adrian’s mother and the administrator of his estate—about the hypercalcemic cardiac arrest her child suffered.

The claims against Swanson went to trial May 26. On June 7, after about two-and-a-half hours of deliberation, the jury awarded the plaintiff $1.3 million—$1 million on the wrongful death action and $300,000 on the survival action—finding Swanson was negligent and that her negligence was a factual cause of Adrian’s harm.

“We thought the jury recognized that Adrian had a chance after going through a difficult surgery and, most stunning, the institution … never told Ms. Wilson about the significant cardiac event he had on June 6 that ultimately caused his death,” said plaintiffs counsel Joe H. Tucker Jr. of Tucker Law Group in Philadelphia.

Counsel for Swanson, J. Michael Doyle of Post & Schell in Philadelphia, could not be reached for comment.

— Zack Needles, of the Law Weekly •

Date of Verdict:

June 7.

Court and Case No.:

C.P. Philadelphia No. 130601746.

Judge:

Karen Shreeves-Johns .

Type of Action:

Wrongful death.

Injuries:

Hypercalcemic cardiac arrest, death.

Plaintiffs Counsel:

Joe H. Tucker Jr., Jesse C. Klaproth, Tucker Law Group, Philadelphia.

Defense Counsel:

J. Michael Doyle, Post & Schell , Philadelphia.

Plaintiffs Expert:

Dr. Alexander Weingarten, pain management, Syosset, New York .

Defense Expert:

Dr. Jeffrey P. Jacobs, cardiothoracic surgery, St. Petersburg, Florida; Dr. Francis McGowan Jr., pediatric anesthesiologist, Philadelphia.

Comment:

A Philadelphia jury awarded $1.3 million to the estate of an infant who died following a heart transplant procedure.

According to the plaintiff’s pretrial conference memorandum, decedent Adrian Wilson was born May 24, 2011, at Temple University Hospital and then was transferred to St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. Adrian was diagnosed in utero with hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), mitral stenosis with aortic atresia and restrictive intra-atrial septum.

The plaintiff’s memorandum said the treatment for HLHS is called a Norwood operation, or a heart transplant. On May 25, 2011, Adrian underwent this procedure, which was performed by Dr. Achintya Moulick and Dr. Randy Stevens, both of whom were voluntarily dismissed as defendants prior to trial, along with Tenet Healthsystem St. Christopher’s Hospital For Children LLC, Tenet Healthsystem Philadelphia Inc. and Healthsystem Medical Inc. Adrian’s chest was electively left open during the procedure, and he slowly stabilized over the next 10 days.

On June 6, 2011, according to the plaintiff’s memorandum, Adrian underwent a delayed sternal closure procedure, during which multiple doses of calcium chloride were administered by defendant Dr. Veronica Swanson and certified registered nurse anesthetist, Joe Dlugoz.

Immediately following the sternal closure procedure, Adrian became hypercalcemic and bradycardic and suffered a hypercalcemic cardiac arrest. Adrian died June 15, 2011, according to court documents.

Plaintiffs pain management expert Dr. Alexander Weingarten said in his report that, because of a nationwide shortage of calcium gluconate, calcium chloride was substituted in the preparation of the IV calcium administered to Adrian. Calcium chloride contains about three times the elemental calcium per cubic centimeter that calcium gluconate contains, Weingarten said in his report.

Adrian was given a total of 470 mg of calcium chloride during and after the procedure, which “far exceeded the recommended dose,” Weingarten said in his report.

Defense expert Dr. Francis McGowan Jr., a pediatric anesthesiologist, said in his own report, however, that Adrian’s cardiac arrest was not caused by the calcium dosing or acute hypercalcemia. Instead, McGowan said in his report that the timing of the cardiac arrest was “entirely consistent with rapid and progressive hemodynamic deterioration due to the chest closure itself.”

The defense’s pediatric cardiothoracic surgery expert, Dr. Jeffrey P. Jacobs, said in his own report that children with HLHS who undergo heart transplants have a very high mortality rate.

The defense argued in its memorandum that calcium chloride was given in small increments on an as-needed basis and that Adrian’s death was the result of increased pressure on his already fragile heart during the sternal closure procedure.

But the plaintiff’s memorandum said Adrian’s death was the result of negligence on the part of Swanson in administering the calcium chloride. The plaintiff’s memorandum also alleged that the hospital never told Bianca Swanson—Adrian’s mother and the administrator of his estate—about the hypercalcemic cardiac arrest her child suffered.

The claims against Swanson went to trial May 26. On June 7, after about two-and-a-half hours of deliberation, the jury awarded the plaintiff $1.3 million—$1 million on the wrongful death action and $300,000 on the survival action—finding Swanson was negligent and that her negligence was a factual cause of Adrian’s harm.

“We thought the jury recognized that Adrian had a chance after going through a difficult surgery and, most stunning, the institution … never told Ms. Wilson about the significant cardiac event he had on June 6 that ultimately caused his death,” said plaintiffs counsel Joe H. Tucker Jr. of Tucker Law Group in Philadelphia.

Counsel for Swanson, J. Michael Doyle of Post & Schell in Philadelphia, could not be reached for comment.

— Zack Needles, of the Law Weekly •