McGivern v. M.D., et al.

State of Wisconsin/Circuit Court/Brown County

In April of 2022, after six and a half years of litigation, Mark Budzinski and the Corneille Law Group obtained a defense verdict on behalf of a cardiothoracic surgeon in a wrongful death medical malpractice case.  The plaintiff was the widow of a middle-aged man with a significant cardiac history that required a quadruple bypass procedure.  Several weeks after the surgery, the patient experienced an episode of fainting while driving to a medical appointment.  He was treated emergently at an outside facility where it was discovered the patient had developed a pericardial effusion, or fluid around the heart.  The patient was transferred to the hospital where the CABG procedure had been performed, and he was admitted to the ICU where he was assessed and monitored overnight.  A follow up echocardiogram the following morning demonstrated a large pericardial effusion that plaintiff contended was now acutely enlarging. At that point however, the patient did not have evidence of cardiac tamponade; a situation where the fluid around the heart impairs the heart's ability to fill with blood, and to pump sufficient oxygenated blood to perfuse the organs.  The day following admission to the ICU, the patient experienced a sudden and precipitous decline in cardiac output quickly resulting in loss of consciousness and a complete cardiovascular collapse.  A Code Blue was activated, and CPR measures were initiated.  However, those measures were unsuccessful and the patient expired in the ICU.

In the lawsuit, plaintiffs alleged that the cardiothoracic surgeon was negligent in failing to drain the pericardial effusion at some point prior to the code.  Plaintiff's further alleged that the surgeon was negligent in failing to open the patient's chest in the ICU during the code itself, and prior to the code being called.  As a result of the death, plaintiffs were claiming more $1,500,000 for both economic and non-economic damages.  Following a seven day trial with a number of experts, including cardio-thoracic surgeons, critical care doctors, as well as pathologists, the jury of 12 people returned a verdict finding the cardiothoracic surgeon was not negligent in his care and treatment of the patient at the time of re-admission or the time of the code.