Defense Verdict Obtained in Surgery Case

Dustin J. Denning and Jacob E. Peterson successfully defended our client, a general surgeon, in a medical malpractice jury trial in which the plaintiff alleged that the surgeon was negligent when performing a colostomy takedown with primary anastomosis. This procedure is designed to reconnect the rectum to the descending colon so that the patient no longer has a colostomy bag. The plaintiff alleged that the surgeon deviated from the standard of care by stapling the posterior vaginal wall when forming the anastomosis. She alleged that the stapling error caused her to develop rectovaginal fistulas, which is a communication, or opening, between the rectum and vaginal canal, that allowed the passage of stool and gas through the vagina. The plaintiff had to undergo additional surgeries to repair the fistulas. She sought $500,000 at trial.

We defended the case by showing that the patient developed a leak of her anastomosis, which is a known surgical complication that occurs in about 5% of all anastomotic procedures. The leak led to the development of an abscess, which then led to the development of the fistulas, through no fault on the part of the surgeon. We demonstrated to the jury that the surgeon would have had a clear view of the rectal stump that was being stapled to the descending colon using the EEA stapler double-stapling technique. Reinforcing sutures were applied as well, which gave the surgeon a second opportunity to observe the connection and reassure himself that he did not incorporate the posterior vaginal wall when creating the anastomosis.

After a five day jury trial, a Dickinson County, Kansas, jury returned a verdict in favor of our client after deliberating about 1 hour and 15 minutes.