Decedent, age 49 at the time of his death, underwent an arthroscopy with synovectomy operative procedure on his left knee in 2006. Eight days post-op defendant orthopedic surgeon diagnosed decedent with an acute deep venous thrombosis involving the gastrocnemius veins of the left lower extremity. He prescribed Lovenox and Coumadin to prevent the further development of DVT and a potentially fatal pulmonary embolus. Decedent remained on anticoagulation therapy for three months with no complications.
In 2008 the same surgeon performed an arthroscopy with an anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction with hamstring autograft operative procedure on the decedent’s same knee. He was not placed on anticoagulation prophylaxis following the surgery. Six days post-op he acutely developed difficulty breathing with choking, chest pain and syncope. After initially recovering, while being transported to the hospital he stopped breathing and was noted to be with pulseless electrical activity. He was pronounced dead shortly after arrival at the hospital.
Plaintiff’s experts opined that decedent was at a higher than standard risk for a potentially fatal PE given his demonstrated history of DVT following the first surgery. They further opined that the second surgery was longer, involved more blood loss, a longer tourniquet time, decedent was two years older, heavier and less ambulatory; all further increasing the risk for clotting. Given all of the above, plaintiff contended that the defendant was negligent in failing to advise the decedent that he was at an increased risk for the development of DVT and PE and further negligent in failing to place him on prophylactic anticoagulation.