Patient is Killed by Saddle Embolism Following Unnecessary Surgery


Pulmonology Expert WitnessThis case involves a middle aged woman in Connecticut who died while recovering from elective cosmetic surgery. According to a post-mortem examination, it was discovered that the patient should not have been cleared for surgery, especially after an EKG performed several days before the surgery returned abnormal results. In addition, the patient had been living with chronic deep-vein thrombosis that had been managed using anti-clotting medication, which was discontinued prior to the surgery. The patient’s surgery was concluded without incident, however the patient began suffering from multiple symptoms of respiratory distress with sudden onset several hours after the surgery. Despite attention from hospital staff, the patient died a short time later from a saddle pulmonary embolism.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Do you have knowledge of the proper steps and protocols when assessing patients such as the one described in this case?
  • 2. What is the process involved with appropriately evaluating abnormal EKG findings in the context of patients history of DVT?

Expert Witness Response E-007983

I have 19 years experience in pulmonary and critical care medicine, including performing prep and post evaluations, and managing patients with thromboembolic disease. I evaluate patients preoperatively and postoperatively routinely in my role as a pulmonary and critical care specialist. Depending on the EKG abnormalities, further testing with echocardiogram and /or stress testing and/or cardiology evaluation is appropriate when evaluating abnormal EKG findings in the context of patients history of DVT. I have clinically managed similar cases, and additional workup prior to surgery is critical to avoid outcomes of this nature.

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