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IV Infiltration Burn Case - Arizona Defense Verdict

March 22, 2017

Jury overcomes sympathy of injuries to minor patient.

Overland Park, Kansas ­– March 22, 2017 – Preferred Physicians Medical (PPM), industry-leading provider of professional liability insurance for anesthesia practices, announced that a Maricopa County, Arizona jury returned a defense verdict in favor of PPM’s insured pediatric anesthesiologist and his anesthesia practice group.

A five month-old female underwent craniotomy and fronto-orbital advancement due to premature closure of the sutures of the skull. General anesthesia was provided by PPM’s insured pediatric anesthesiologist. After induction, two IVs were started, one in the patient’s foot and the other in her left hand. During the procedure the patient lost an estimated 250 ccs of blood, which was replaced. She also had a period of hypotension that was treated with diluted calcium chloride.

At the end of the procedure when the patient’s arms were untucked, an infiltration of the left arm and hand was noted. The patient sustained chemical burns to her left upper extremity as a result of the calcium chloride infiltration. Conservative treatment was provided. The child has scarring on her left forearm and hand, but no functional limitations.

The parents, on behalf of the child, filed a lawsuit naming the anesthesiologist and his anesthesia practice group as defendants. The patient alleged calcium gluconate should have been administered instead of calcium chloride. The patient claimed the administration of calcium gluconate would have resulted in her sustaining minimal, if any, scarring.

The patient’s demand before trial was $850,000. During negotiations, PPM offered $100,000 on behalf of the anesthesiologist. The patient reduced her demand to $650,000 and the case proceeded to trial.

The patient’s anesthesiology expert, Gregory B. Hammer, M.D. from Stanford, California, testified the administration of calcium chloride was below the standard of care. He testified further the anesthesiologist should have ensured calcium gluconate was available in the Pyxis or obtained it from the facility’s pharmacy. He also testified the period of hypotension did not require immediate treatment and waiting 10-15 minutes to obtain calcium gluconate from the pharmacy would have been appropriate.

The defense anesthesiology expert testified the administration of diluted calcium chloride was within the standard of care. He testified further the child’s condition was emergent enough that it was appropriate not to wait to obtain calcium gluconate from the pharmacy.

After a four-day trial, the jury deliberated approximately 20 minutes before returning a verdict in favor of the anesthesiologist and his anesthesia practice group. Gary Fadell, Esq. with the law firm Fadell, Cheney & Burt, PLLC in Phoenix, Arizona represented PPM’s insureds. Shelley Strome, Senior Claims Specialist, managed the file on behalf of PPM.

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