Radiologist Vindicated By Rockland County Jury On Claimed Failure To Detect Fractured Catheter Lodged In Heart
A Rockland County radiologist interpreted chest CT scans in August 2012 and April 2014 that were performed as part of a cancer surveillance protocol for a patient who had been successfully treated for ovarian cancer. Between 2010 and 2011 the patient underwent chemotherapy delivered through a Med-A-Port catheter inserted in the subclavian vein. A fractured catheter lodged in the patient's heart was discovered by another radiologist in June 2015, but allegedly could not be extracted because it had become fibrosed and adherent to the wall of the heart chamber. The patient's radiology expert testified that the fractured catheter was clearly visible on the "scout" images obtained during both CT scans in August 2012 and April 2014 and that the delay in discovering the fractured catheter now required an open heart surgery for the extraction. This same expert told the jury that the presence of the catheter in the heart caused premature ventricular contractions and an irregular heartbeat placing the patient at risk for sudden death due to a fatal arrhythmia.
Defense counsel, Louis E. Jakub, of Garson & Jakub, cross examined the patient on her non-compliant decision to discontinue beta blocker medication prescribed by her cardiologist for her alleged life threatening cardiac condition caused by the fractured catheter. Mr. Jakub also successfully established that the patient's claimed life threatening cardiac condition was not even believed by the patient herself, since she had stopped treating with her cardiologist for three years and only returned on the eve of filing her malpractice suit.
The defense expert radiologist testified that the "scout" image is not part of the CT scan, and that it is not interpreted by the radiologist. The jury agreed and also accepted the defense that the "scout" image is only utilized by the technician who performs the CT scan. Moreover, the defendant radiologist and his expert explained that the CT scan images did not reveal the presence of the fractured catheter because the contrast administered as part of the procedure obscured its presence which could only be appreciated with the benefit of hindsight.
On October 24, 2018 the jury deliberated for 45 minutes before returning a defense verdict for the radiologist on the April 2014 CT scan, as the Court had dismissed all claims for the August 2012 scan which was beyond the statute of limitations. Mennillo v. Elliot Handler,M.D. - Rockland County Supreme Court, Index No. 32233/16