Widower wins $14M case vs. Brockton doc

By Mike Underwood
Boston Herald, March 4, 2008

A grieving North Chelmsford widower was awarded a staggering $14 million payout yesterday after his lawyer convinced a jury the man’s wife died at the hands of a negligent Brockton surgeon.

Shannyn MacPherson, 30, went to Brockton Hospital for minor, elective thyroid surgery in 2001. Less than 32 hours later, she was dead.

A jury yesterday found Dr. John Ambrosino guilty of medical malpractice and negligence at Middlesex Superior Court in Lowell.

Ambrosino’s insurer will have to pay the award to the victim’s husband, Brad MacPherson, 41.

“Brad is very happy with the verdict, but it is obviously bittersweet…The jury’s decision is certainly recognition that mistakes were made,” said MacPherson’s attorney, Rob Higgins, of Boston law firm Lubin & Meyer.

Shannyn MacPherson went to Brockton Hospital on May 9, 2001, on the recommendation of her mother, an operating room nurse who had worked with Ambrosino for years, Higgins said.

After Ambrosino performed the thyroid surgery, MacPherson developed “abdominal compartment syndrome” - trapped air in her stomach - said Higgins.

“He took her back into surgery, opened her up, couldn’t find a cause for the air and closed her back up again,” said Higgins, adding that her stomach should have been left open for a while to release the air.

He said MacPherson’s condition worsened as she waited for eight hours in a recovery room.

She was rushed to Boston Medical Center and, despite emergency surgery within an hour of arriving, she died at 4 p.m. on May 10, 2001.

Ambrosino, who left Brockton Hospital in 2005, told the court he followed procedure, constantly monitored MacPherson in the recovery room and that the trapped air was an unpredictable development, Higgins said.

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