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Wrongful Death Trial

November 6, 2014

Tom Carlock and Eric Frisch obtained a defense verdict in Fulton County State Court in a wrongful death case against a neurosurgeon.  The case involved a fifty-three year old male who underwent a successful C5-C6/C6-C7 anterior cervical discectomy and fusion.  The surgery was completed without complication, but the patient developed minor post-operative swelling.  The surgeon was informed of the issue; he evaluated the patient and issued orders to admit the patient to the intensive care unit for close monitoring for signs of possible airway obstruction, including neck swelling, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing.  The ICU nurses were measuring the patient’s neck circumference and contacted the surgeon to advise that the circumference had increased by 1 cm, but the patient was otherwise stable with no signs of respiratory distress.  Thus, the instructions for continued close monitoring were continued.  All experts testified that neck circumference measurements do not equate to neck swelling and provide no useful information about a patient’s respiratory status.  Over the next several hours, the patient began experiencing actual observable neck swelling and difficulty swallowing, but the ICU nursing staff did not notify the neurosurgeon.  The patient went into respiratory arrest more than five hours after the last time the nurses contacted the neurosurgeon and resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful.  Plaintiff alleged that the neurosurgeon should have evaluated the patient, ordered diagnostic tests or re-intubated the patient when he was notified that the patient was stable, but had an increase in neck circumference.

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For informational purposes only. Past success does not indicate the likelihood of success in future cases.