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46-year old female injured during replacement of heart surgery resulting in concomitant aortic and mitral valve replacement

Type of Injury: Surgical Error
Type of Case: Medical Malpractice
Settlement Amount: $4,625,022.09

On March 4, 2010, F-46 underwent replacement of her aortic valve at the University of Chicago Medical Center (“UCMC”) due to aortic insufficiency. This surgery was performed by Shahab Akhter, MD and assisted by John Stepney, PA. According to the medical records, during the course of the surgery “[a] flexible suction catheter was placed between the aortic valve leaflets and became entangled in the anterior leaflet of the mitral valve. As this suction catheter was attempted to be released from the leaflet, it continued to remain firmly entangled within the metal wire of the tip of the suction catheter. Approximately 30 minutes was spent trying to remove the anterior leaflet of the mitral valve from this suction catheter and eventually this was accomplished.” “This injury to the anterior leaflet of the mitral valve must have occurred early in the operation as a result of getting entangled in the suction catheter.”

The “suction catheter” was identified as a Medtronic DLPTM Pericardial Sump (12010). These devices come with the following warnings: (1) Indications: These sumps are intended for draining the pericardial sac. The Intracardiac Sump can also be used to drain the cardiac chambers; (2) Contraindications: The Pericardial Sump is not intended to be placed through a valve to drain a closed cardiac chamber. This device is not intended for use except as indicated; and (3) Adverse Effects: Valve damage may occur if the Perdicardial Sump is passed through valve leaflets. Interactive CardioVascular and Thoracic Surgery published a case study entitled “Mitral valve injury by cardiotomy suction during aortic valve replacement – a near miss.” INTERACT. CARDIOVASC. THORAC. SURG 2008; 7:136-137; originally published online Oct. 19, 2007. The above-referenced adverse effects have been known to the medical community since, at least, 1991. Despite the aforementioned warnings, this is the exact mechanism of injury that occurred to the claimant.

Injuries: Due to the alleged negligence and intra-operative injury to the mitral valve, claimant underwent concomitant aortic and mitral valve replacement. Both valves were St. Jude Medical (“SJM”) EpicTM bioprosthetic valves. Additionally, on October 25, 2010, the claimant had surgery to implant a permanent dual chamber pacemaker sick sinus syndrome and frequent junctional rhythm with pauses.

Specials: Medicals: N/A Lost Income: N/A Occupation: N/A

What Each Defendant Paid: The University of Chicago Medical Center ($3,250,000.00) (plus waiver of $1,375,022.09 medical bills from the University of Chicago Medical Center and the University of Chicago Physicians Group (total value of settlement $4,625,022.09)

Insurance Company: The University of Chicago Medical Center is self-insured.

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