Bartow, FL— Attorneys debated Tuesday whether an unreasonable delay in appropriate treatment cost a hospice worker his lower leg, as trial began against the vascular surgeon who treated him. Gray v. Iakovidis, 2015CA003137.
“When a patient has an acute blockage in their leg, … [it] is like a ticking time bomb waiting to go off,” Searcy Denney’s Edward Ricci told jurors during opening statements Tuesday. “As a consequence of... Dr. [Panagiotis] Iakovidis’ choice not to come in, and not to see [Samuel] Gray [in a timely manner], his leg died and needed to be sawed off with an electric saw.”
Samuel Gray, then 61, underwent a below-the-knee amputation on January 25, 2013, five days after he was admitted to Winter Haven Hospital complaining of severe lower leg pain. Dr. Panagiotis Iakovidis, a vascular surgeon was called for consultation when Gray first arrived on the night of January 21 and ordered imaging, Ricci said, but did not examine Gray until sometime on the 22nd.
Testing would reveal Gray, a hospice grief counselor, suffered from a blood clot in his leg that was cutting off circulation. Ricci told jurors Tuesday that such a blood clot required quick treatment, within 8-12 hours from the onset of symptoms, to save the leg. However, Ricci said records showed Iakovidis did not order any treatment until the late afternoon on January 22, about 23 hours after Gray first arrived at the hospital.
Ricci told jurors evidence would show the delay in examining Gray and ordering appropriate treatment or performing surgery cost him his leg. “The longer you wait, the longer that clot is allowed to sit there, the longer the leg is permitted to not be getting this vital blood that it needs to stay alive, the more likely it is the leg’s going to die, and treatment will fail,” Ricci said. “And because of the extraordinary delay, that’s what happened.”
But the defense argues Iakovidis’ treatment protocol was appropriate under the circumstances and chronic arterial disease, in concert with the clot, made amputation necessary. “Mr. Gray did not lose his leg because of negligence,” McEwan, Martinez, Dukes & Hall’s Mary Jaye Hall told jurors Tuesday. “Mr. Gray lost his leg because he had severe disease in his leg.”
Hall told jurors pathology reports would show Gray suffered from artery disease, including “focally severe” arterial plaque in his lower leg. She also contended Gray could have been suffering from clotting problems for days to weeks before he visited the hospital.
Hall highlighted a defense timeline of treatment, telling jurors Gray was treated with blood thinners shortly after he arrived at the hospital, while Iakovidis ordered advanced imaging the night he was admitted and examined him the following morning.
Hall disputed the 8-12-hour time frame on appropriate treatment advanced by plaintiffs, and told jurors evidence would show problems with Gray’s blood vessels, as well as the risks associated with surgery, supported Iakovidis’ decision on the 22nd to administer medicine to break down the clot rather than to operate.
“[Gray’s amputation] wasn’t because [treatment] was done too late or the wrong type of treatment was provided,” Hall said. “It was because of Mr. Gray’s underlying disease process, and that is why the treatment failed in this case, despite everyone’s best efforts to try and save his leg.”
Trial is expected to last through the middle of next week.
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Samuel and Belva Gray are represented by Searcy Denney’s Edward Ricci and Matthew Schwencke.
Dr. Panagiotis Iakovidis is represented by McEwan, Martinez, Dukes & Hall’s Mary Jaye Hall and Thomas Dukes, III.
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