A common defense argument in medical malpractice cases is that there was no viable treatment to prevent a patient’s injury. During closings of a med mal trial over the loss of a hospital patient’s leg, Lloyd Bell powerfully counters that argument en route to a 7-figure result.
Connie Lockhart’s left leg was amputated in March 2012, after she was admitted to Northside Hospital—Cherokee’s emergency room and a femoral catheter line was improperly inserted. Lockhart contends Dr. Sachin Lavania, who took over her care after the line was inserted, inadequately treated the problem, leading to the leg’s loss.
The defense contended that by the time Lavania took over Lockhart’s care, her leg was unsalvageable. However, in closings, Lockhart’s attorney, The Bell Law Firm’s Lloyd Bell fired back at each prong of that defense.
Bell reminded jurors of testimony from Dr. Paul Collier, as vascular surgery expert, who said a patient’s leg in Lockhart’s situation could be saved if proper action is taken within 6-8 hours of the loss of blood supply to the tissues.
Bell walked the jury through the treatment timeline, arguing that, if Lavania had reported earlier and responded more aggressively, Lockhart’s leg could have been saved. “That’s why it’s a medical emergency. You don’t sit around and wait. You don’t sit around and make a second cup of coffee when you hear your patient’s leg has turned ischemic,” Bell said. “You get out of bed. You come in and treat your patient. You do your job.”
Bell reminded jurors that Collier concluded Lockhart could have received controlled infusions of medication to reopen the blood vessels that were slowly killing her leg. And he said defense arguments that Lockhart’s low blood pressure prevented that medication from being given was simply “misleading.”
Relying on a pair of blue and red tubes he used throughout the trial to represent Lockhart’s femoral vein and artery, Bell said doctors could have titrated the medication in small amounts through the catheter to reach the affected blood vessels.
“You’re trying to unclog those vessels,” Bell said, as he held the tubes against his own leg and ran a femoral catheter along the tubes, demonstrating how he claimed the medication should be administered.
“You don’t just give up. You don’t just say ‘There’s nothing we can do. So sorry, Connie, you can live with your prosthesis for the rest of [your life],’” Bell said. “You’ve got to give medicine, and you’ve got to take action to save the leg.”
Bell’s closing was critical to a jury decision finding Lavania 27% responsible on a $4.7 million award, which Lockhart and Lavania settled for $1 million soon after the verdict was read.
Not a subscriber?