Defense Verdict in Queens County

Raphael J. Berman recently obtained a defense verdict in a wrongful death action in Queens County Supreme Court on behalf of a cardiologist who was requested to render a consultation on a patient who had a longstanding history of severe rheumatoid arthritis. The patient had been admitted with sinus tachycardia and bilateral leg edema.

Plaintiff claimed that defendant failed to timely diagnose and treat a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) which, purportedly, eventually caused the patient to develop phlegmasia cerulea dolens and ultimately require an amputation. The patient’s condition was complicated by a perforated colon, sepsis, and disseminated intravascular coagulation that eventually led to her death.

The defense was able to establish that the cardiologist treated the patient appropriately, arrived at the correct diagnosis, and acted appropriately in not ordering a Doppler study given the simultaneous bilateral nature of the leg edema, the fact that the patient did not present with any classic signs of either a pulmonary embolism and/or DVT, and that the patient’s clinical condition improved over the course of defendant’s treatment with the administration of steroids and heart medications. The defense was further able to establish that the patient developed phlegmasia cerulea dolens as a consequence of her rheumatoid vasculitis that had nothing to do with any of the treatment rendered during the earlier admission.

In addition, defendant successfully moved to strike the testimony of plaintiff’s rheumatology expert on the grounds that his causation theory that earlier anti-coagulation would have prevented the development of phlegmasia cerulea dolens was scientifically invalid, and not generally accepted by the medical community.