Thomas, Genevieve v. Regents (UCDMC)

Sacramento Superior Court – Court trial, 8 days, June 1995. Two days following a double wedge resection via thoracotomy for metastatic squamous cell cancers of the left lung, decedent George Thomas was taken back to the operating room after a large quantity of frank blood was expelled through one of his chest tubes. While exploration initially found no situs to explain this bleeding, a clot was ultimately discovered on the decedent’s aorta which, when sponged, immediately produced a massive exsanguination, which led to extreme hypotension, cardiac arrest, and profound metabolic acidosis before control could be achieved. After brain death was diagnosed two days later and life support withdrawn, the decedent expired. Plaintiff alleged that the aortic defect was the product either of a “sharp’s” or retractor injury during the wedge resection itself and further alleged that the primary surgeon was negligent in returning the decedent to the operating room for the emergency exploratory surgeon, then failing to summon a cardiovascular surgeon at various points during the exploratory surgery before the exsanguination occurred and then electing to place the decedent on bypass as opposed to cross-clamp. Plaintiff also contended that the res ipsa loquitur applied due to aortic eruption itself. Last demand $25,000.00 during settlement conference. Defense verdict. No appeal.