Delayed Hematoma Treatment Wrongful Death

Morris v. Vascular Surgery Associates

HematomaThis wrongful death claim was filed in Harford County after a woman suffered a fatal delay in hematoma treatment. It was filed in Health Claims Arbitration on February 23, 2018, and it is the 96th medical malpractice case filed in Maryland this year.

Summary of Plaintiff's Allegations

A woman was admitted to the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center and diagnosed with an occluded femoropopliteal graft. She had previously undergone two left femoropopliteal bypass grafts - surgeries used to treat a blocked artery in the thigh - and now the same artery was blocked again.

Doctors made an attempt to open up the artery with a catheter, but they were not successful. Instead, the doctors passed the catheter into a nearby artery and administered drugs to dissolve the clot. Notably, the woman was already on blood thinners before she came to the hospital.

The woman's condition did not improve the following day, so she underwent a stent placement and a procedure that utilizes the sharp blade on the end of a catheter to remove plaque from her blood vessel. She did report feeling better, but she also started to develop a hematoma at the catheter site.

While the hematoma expanded over the next several hours, the woman grew pale and her blood pressure dropped. Without coming to check on the woman in her deteriorating condition, the doctor recommended continued blood transfusions instead of the necessary surgical correction. The woman's hemoglobin and hematocrit levels were consistent with significant anemia and bleeding, and a CAT scan confirmed a retroperitoneal hematoma. Still, the woman was not taken to the operating room. After the woman's abdomen distended and her blood pressure continued to drop, she was intubated and a central line was placed.

When the surgery finally began, more than eight hours after the hematoma first developed, the surgeons discovered that the whole problem could be corrected with just three stitches and a vein closure. Unfortunately, because of the increased pressure in her abdomen, severe blood loss, and shock, the woman went into multi-organ failure and passed away.

Additional Comments
  • In most cases involving a hematoma, surgical or endovascular treatment is not necessary. This case is a little unusual because the woman was already on blood-thinning medication when the doctors used a catheter to administer additional blood-thinning medication closer to the clot site. The excess blood-thinning medication was designed to break up the woman's blood clot, but it also made it impossible for her to develop medically necessary blood clots to naturally repair her hematoma.

  • Even if the doctors failed to recognize the potential dangers of a double dose of blood thinners, you would certainly think they should have taken immediate action when the woman's blood pressure started to drop so dramatically. When a patient has extreme hypotension, anemia, and a worsening medical condition, doctors must perform emergency surgery endovascular treatment to prevent ongoing shock.

  • According to the claimant's expert witness, a vascular surgeon, the woman's condition could have been diagnosed nine hours earlier when her hemoglobin and hematocrit levels were found to be abnormal. Even after a CAT scan confirmed the large retroperitoneal hematoma, corrective surgery was not performed for another seven hours.

Jurisdiction
  • Harford County
Defendants
  • Two vascular surgeons
  • Vascular Surgery Associates, LLC
Hospitals Where Patient was Treated
  • University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center
Negligence
  • Failing to employ appropriate treatment, surgery, tests, and/or procedures.

  • Failing to thoroughly evaluate and diagnose the woman's condition.

  • Failing to properly assess the effects of chosen treatment strategies and adjust the woman's treatment in response to appropriate evaluation.

Specific Counts Pled
  • As a direct result of the defendants' negligence, the woman suffered physical pain, emotional anguish, fear, anxiety, and ultimately, death.

Plaintiff's Experts and Areas of Specialty
  • Russell Samson, M.D., General and Vascular Surgery. Dr. Samson a board certified vascular surgeon in active practice in Florida. He has been in the practice of vascular surgery since 1980 and has been named as an expert in a number of vascular surgery cases.

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