IADC member E. F. “Rick” Straub, Jr., of Whitlow, Roberts, Houston & Straub, defended a medical malpractice case that was tried the week of May 18, 2015 where a general surgeon’s care was alleged to be improper and blamed for the death of a 54 year old male following surgical resection of a cancerous rectal tumor. The surgery successfully removed the tumor but the patient died on the fourth post-operative day of a presumed pulmonary embolus. The surgeon had elected to withhold chemical prophylaxis as a preventative measure to prevent the formation of DVT, instead relying on compression stockings, pneumatic compression devices, and attempted mobilization of the patient, believing that the risk of post-operative bleeding exceeded the risk of DVT formation.
Plaintiff’s expert, an oncologist/hematologist, testified that anti-coagulation therapy should have been given, and further testified that after the successful surgery to remove the tumor, plaintiff’s life expectancy was much improved with a 75-90% five year survival rate. The defense expert, a general surgeon, testified that the decision to use anti-coagulation therapy is patient dependent and it must be determined on a case by case basis whether the risk of post-operative bleeding exceeds the benefit of the chemical prophylaxis.
A unanimous jury exonerated the physician of all negligence and awarded no damages after deliberating for less than twenty minutes.