The Grummen Case
Our client, a 37 year old husband and father of two, developed heart disease requiring an open-heart bypass. Our client was assured that the surgery would be performed by a noted heart surgeon at a large teaching hospital.
The surgeon grafted the Left Anterior Descending (LAD) artery to an adjacent vein rather than the intended blood vessel, resulting in a surgeon-induce heart attack when the heart was re-started. The plaintiff suffered major heart muscle damage and permanent loss of heart function, leaving him a cardiac cripple.
It became clear during the case that the surgery was performed by a resident rather than the noted heart surgeon, and as is typically the case, the patient unknowingly signed a consent form which included small print authorizing a resident to perform the surgery, despite the primary surgeon’s verbal assurances.
Fortunately, there is no lower “standard of care” for residents performing their first surgery; and therefore, the resident was charged with the same degree of care as would be an experienced surgeon.
The case settled after the surgeon was deposed and admitted that he had only seen the same complication occur once before——the first time he, the same surgeon, had attempted to perform open heart bypass surgery during his residency training many years prior. Our client unfortunately died shortly after this case resolved, and the settlement funds were used to support his family and help fund post-secondary schooling for our clients’ children.