Kidney Transplant Lawsuit Settles for $1.25 Million

2010 Medical Malpractice Trial Report

Failure to monitor results in kidney death after kidney transplant from a living relative

The plaintiff was a 47-year-old man with a medical history that included renal (kidney) failure secondary to longstanding IgA nephropathy.

On 6/25/03, the plaintiff underwent related living donor kidney transplant at New England Medical Center. His younger brother was the donor of a perfectly matched kidney. Postoperatively, the plaintiff had good urine output, indicating that the kidney was well perfused with good vascular anatomy and flow.

Per protocol, the plaintiff was transferred to the post anesthesia care unit (PACU). During the overnight hours, the plaintiff was under the care of a registered nurse, who had been working in the PACU for less than 3 months, two medical interns, who were 12 days into their internships, and a 3rd year resident. Throughout the evening, the plaintiff’s urine output dropped from 100cc at 2:30 p.m., to 60 cc at 5:00 p.m., to 30 cc at 9:00 p.m., and finally plummeted to 15 cc at 1:15 a.m. This is a well-known sign of compromised blood flow to the kidney.

In her deposition, the intern testified that she updated the resident hourly regarding the plaintiff’s diminishing urine output. The resident denied these calls were made. It was undisputed, however, that the resident never saw the plaintiff during his entire 12-hour shift. In addition, no calls were made by the overnight staff to the attending physician.

At the end of the defendants’ shifts, an attending physician evaluated the plaintiff for the first time in 16 hours. The attending noted the decreased urine output, obtained a STAT ultrasound, and emergently took the plaintiff back to the operating room. By this time, the kidney had already suffered irreversible injury from ischemia (lack of blood flow). A few days later the kidney was removed.

Today, the plaintiff is required to receive 8 hours of dialysis, 3 days a week. He has also been placed back on a transplant list.

The plaintiff expected to present expert medical testimony that the defendants were negligent in their care and treatment of the plaintiff when they failed to notify the attending physician and when they failed to investigate the cause of the plaintiff’s decreased urine output. The plaintiff further expected to present evidence that the plaintiff’s transplant would have been successful had the defendants complied with the accepted standards of care.

It was anticipated that the defendants would testify that the plaintiff suffered a known complication of surgery and that kidney transplants routinely fail, even in the absence of negligence.

On the second day of trial, the parties settled the case for $1,250,000.00.

Lubin & Meyer attorneys represented the plaintiff in this medical malpractice lawsuit.

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