Verdict in Tonsillectomy Death: $13 Million

2014 Medical Malpractice Trial Report

38-year-old Man Dies from Hemorrhage following Tonsillectomy at South Shore Hospital

The plaintiff was the wife of a 38-year-old man who died from hemorrhage following a tonsillectomy performed by the defendant, Peter Ambrus, M.D.

The plaintiff’s decedent had a history of snoring and mild sleep apnea which caused him to go to the defendant, Dr. Ambrus — an Otolarygologist (ENT), to see if there was anything that could be done to correct his snoring. After meeting, the defendant recommended that Mr. Price undergo removal of his tonsils and he agreed. On 08/04/04, Mr. Price was admitted to South Shore Hospital for his tonsillectomy. Within a few hours after the procedure, Mr. Price was noted to have very high blood pressure. The defendant indicated that he could be given some medication to reduce the blood pressure and then be discharged home.

See news related to this verdict:
Widow Awarded $13M in Husband’s Post-op Death, Boston Herald

South Shore Surgeon Involved in $13M Lawsuit Resigns

Two days later, in the early morning hours of 8/6/04, Mr. Price woke up and began projectile vomiting blood in the bathroom at his home. His wife found him and EMS was called. Within 9 minutes he had lost consciousness. Upon arrival, EMS records showed that they found blood in his mouth, on the floor, the walls and the ceiling of the bathroom. Mr. Price was transported to the hospital immediately and despite resuscitative attempts, he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival. An autopsy showed his cause of death to be hemorrhage in the setting of the history of tonsillectomy.

The plaintiff brought to trial an expert in Otolaryngology. The expert opined that a hemorrhage of the severity suffered by Mr. Price cannot occur without negligence on the part of the physician. It was the plaintiff’s expert opinion that major arteries should never be injured during an elective surgery like a tonsillectomy. The expert further opined that it would be impossible for the amount of blood lost by Mr. Price to have come from a small artery or vein injured during the tonsillectomy.

The defendant presented an expert medical witness who opined that the bleeding most like occurred from either an undiagnosed infection or as the result of a known risk of injury to a small vessel during the procedure. It was his opinion that there was no way to say that the defendant injured a large artery based upon his description of how he performed the procedure.

The jury deliberated from approximately 35 minutes before rendering a verdict of $7,040,000. With interest the total judgment was $13,062,000.

Lubin & Meyer attorney Robert M. Higgins represented the plaintiff in this medical malpractice lawsuit.

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