Court Finds Treating Abdominal Adhesions With Multiple Procedures Complies With General Surgery Standards


General Surgery Expert

Court: Common Pleas Court of Dauphin County, Pennsylvania
Jurisdiction: Federal
Case Name: Taylor v. DeLeo
Citation: 2015 Pa. Dist. & Cnty. Dec. LEXIS 20

Facts

This case involves a plaintiff who underwent multiple laparoscopic surgeries to treat adhesions in her abdomen. The plaintiff filed a medical malpractice suit alleging that the defendant surgeon’s negligence in performing too many surgeries caused her chronic abdominal pain. The defendant retained a general surgery expert to support his case that performing multiple surgeries on the plaintiff was within the standards of care. The plaintiff filed this post-trial motion claiming that the trial court had erred in admitting testimony from the defendant’s general surgery expert.

The General Surgery Expert

The defendant’s general surgery expert was board-certified in colon and rectal surgery. For 30+ years, the expert served as a colon and rectal surgeon at Cooper University Hospital as well as Head of the Division of Colorectal Surgery. The general surgery expert also worked as a faculty facilitator at the Cooper Medical School of Rowan University teaching medical students.

Over the course of his career, the expert witness served on numerous industry committees and authored peer reviewed publications in general surgery. The expert also received various awards and honors at the city, state, and national levels.

The General Surgery Expert’s Testimony

The defendant’s expert in general surgery testified that the defendant had not deviated from the standard of care regarding her treatment of the plaintiff. He concluded that it was not unreasonable for the defendant to perform a lysis of adhesions on the plaintiff, even though she had done several such surgeries in the past. It was noted that following the earlier surgeries, the plaintiff experienced relief from her symptoms and did not suffer significant postoperative complications. The general surgery expert testified that there was no medical literature indicating that performing lysis of adhesions to treat chronic abdominal pain is against the standard of care.

The general surgery expert admitted that none of the articles he depended on to form his opinion promoted the utilization of multiple laparoscopic surgeries to lyse adhesions. However, none of the articles explicitly discouraged a doctor from performing more than one laparoscopic surgery. He admitted that even though he knew this practice is common in other clinics, he did not know a single person who had done more than 2-3 laparoscopic surgeries to lyse adhesions. The general surgery expert witness used multiple peer -reviewed scholarly studies and articles to support his views.

Discussion

The court noted that the general surgery expert cited several scholarly articles in his supplemental reports supporting his opinion that performing multiple laparoscopic surgeries to lyse adhesions is within the standards of care. The validity of the argument and reliability of his sources only affected the weight of his testimony, not its admissibility. Thus, the court found no issues with the trial court’s admittance of the general surgery expert witness’s testimony.

Held

The plaintiff’s motion to preclude the testimony of the defendant’s general surgery expert witness was denied.

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