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Westchester County Jury Exonerates EM Doctor in Wrongful Death Action

A 64 year-old male presented to the emergency department concerned that he had vomited blood after eating that day. The patient had a history of liver cirrhosis and gastric varices bleed, for which he had undergone a glue injection procedure by the co-defendant gastroenterologist two months earlier. The patient had been instructed to proceed to the ER if he ever vomited blood or passed blood from the rectum. On the day in question, the patient was unsure if he had seen blood in his vomit, but he believed he had tasted blood. His vital signs were normal, hemoglobin and hematocrit were abnormally low but improved as compared to values obtained during an admission seven weeks earlier at the same hospital, and physical examination was in all other respects normal. The defendant emergency medicine physician contacted the patient's gastroenterologist, and both felt that the patient could be discharged with a follow-up planned with the gastroenterologist for two days later.

The patient suffered a massive, fatal bleed 36 hours after being discharged from the ED. He lost half his blood volume and was discovered by his wife in a pool of blood, having bled from the rectum. The patient was transported in critical condition to the hospital, where he expired three hours later. The patient was survived by his wife and 25 year-old son, who sought recovery for his pain and suffering, and pecuniary losses including lost income and loss of parental guidance. The jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of both defendants, finding that the decision not to admit the patient was not a departure from accepted medical practice under the circumstances.

This is Mr. Gerspach's 52nd victory of 56 verdicts taken.

Categories: Defense Verdict
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