Woman Dies after Surgery for Hernia. Jury Awards $6.8 Million

2018 Medical Malpractice Judgment

Wrongful death lawsuit against surgeon and his nurse assistant at Winchester Hospital

May 31, 2018 — Middlesex County Superior Court

Lubin & Meyer PC attorneys Adam Satin and Julie Gielowski have received a judgment in the amount of $6.8 million with interest in a medical malpractice wrongful death trial. The lawsuit alleged medical negligence by Winchester Hospital surgeon, Darius Ameri, MD, and his nurse assistant, related to the death of a woman following hiatal hernia surgery.

See below for the the medical malpractice trial lawyer's report.

Trial Lawyer's Report (added September 13, 2018)

Jury Finds Gross Negligence by Surgeon and Negligence by Nurse

Lawsuit claimed surgeon failed to use proper surgical technique and used a surgical tack applier contraindicated in diaphragmatic hernia repair surgery due to risk of puncture to pericardium or other vital structures.

On 8/3/13, the 67 year old female patient died just two days after undergoing an elective laparoscopic hiatal hernia repair. She left a husband and two adult children. An autopsy revealed puncture marks on the posterior aspect of her heart with 250 cc of blood in the pericardium.

The hiatal hernia repair was done by a surgeon and a first assistant nurse. Upon entering, they found extensive abdominal wall adhesions, and more than 50% of the stomach adhered to the mediastinum. The defendants performed the returning the stomach to the abdominal cavity and suturing it to the abdominal wall to prevent recurrence. To repair the widened opening of the diaphragm separating the abdominal cavity from the chest cavity, surgical mesh was used to patch the opening. Among other devices, the defendants used a laparascopic tack applier to secure the surgical mesh.

The following day, the patient developed atrial fibrillation and rapid heart rate. A cardiologist started several medications including digoxin and amiodarone. That evening, the patient’s breathing became raspy and guttural, she developed color changes and a code was called. Extensive resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful and the patient was pronounced dead.

The plaintiff agreed that surgical repair of the patient’s hiatal hernia was indicated to reduce the herniated portion of the stomach back into the diaphragm. During such a procedure, care must be taken to avoid injury to the pericardium which can lead to bleeding and, if severe enough, life-threatening cardiac tamponade. The plaintiff claimed the surgeon and first assistant were negligent when they failed to use proper surgical technique and used a surgical tack applier that was contraindicated in diaphragmatic hernia repair surgery because of the risk that it would puncture the pericardium or other vital structures. The manufacturer of the surgical device used by the defendants to tack the hernia mesh to the diaphragm expressly warned in the product manual that tacks should not be applied in the diaphragm, due to the proximity of the pericardium. The plaintiff argued the damage to the pericardium, and ultimate death, was caused by the tacks. The plaintiff further argued that the surgeon’s decision to ignore the manufacturer’s safety warning constituted gross negligence.

The jury found that both defendants were negligent and that the surgeon was grossly negligent, awarding compensatory and punitive damages.

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