A Fulton County jury returned a favorable verdict in a medical malpractice case for an Atlanta woman after a misplaced central line caused complications that resulted in a below-the-knee amputation. Represented by our own Lloyd Bell and Darren Summerville of the Summerville Law Firm, our client Connie Lockhart was ultimately awarded a $4.7 million verdict by the jury.

Dr. Glenn Bloom Misplaces the Central Line and Leaves It There

An ambulance rushed Connie to Northside-Cherokee Hospital because Connie had dangerously low blood pressure.

Dr. Glenn Bloom attempted to place a catheter in one of Connie’s central veins, to help circulate potentially life-saving medications. A central line in the vein would take the medications up to Connie’s heart, which would then distribute the medications throughout her body.

Dr. Bloom tried to put the catheter in Connie’s femoral vein – located in the thigh area. But Dr. Bloom missed. Instead of putting the catheter in the femoral vein, he put it in Connie’s femoral artery. So instead of the vein taking the medications up to the heart for distribution throughout the body, the artery took the medications straight down to the leg, where they essentially collected in a pool in the tissues of Connie’s toes, foot, and lower leg. This not only put Connie’s leg at risk; it also thwarted the purpose of a central line. The misplacement meant that potentially life-saving medications would not get distributed through Connie’s body.

At trial, the experts for both sides agreed that a diligent doctor might sometimes put a catheter in the wrong blood vessel, but will never leave it there. Leaving a catheter in the wrong vessel can harm a patient severely – possibly even killing her. So, the catheter-placement procedure includes checks to confirm that the catheter is in the right place. Dr. Bloom skipped those steps.

From there, it got worse.

Vaso-constrictors Start to Kill Connie’s Leg, and Dr. Sachin Lavania Ignores the Problem

Hospital staff moved Connie to the ICU and administered vaso-constrictor medication through the misplaced catheter. Vaso-constrictors make the small blood vessels shrink in diameter. That would help to raise Connie’s blood pressure if the medicine were being sent up to her heart for distribution throughout her body. But since the vaso-constrictors were pooling instead, they started to cut off the blood flow to the toes, foot, and lower leg.

At 5:16 in the morning, an ICU nurse called Dr. Sachin Lavania, Connie’s ICU doctor. The nurse told Dr. Lavania that in the past hour Connie’s leg had become “cold, mottled, and pulseless.” All the experts at trial agreed this was a medical emergency. But Dr. Lavania did not get out of bed and come in to see his patient. Nor did he tell the nurse to check the catheter placement. He did not see his patient for about another seven hours — during which the vaso-constrictors continued flowing straight down into Connie’s toes, foot, and lower leg.

Even when Dr. Lavania did see his patient, he did nothing to treat her dying leg. For nearly a week, as Connie’s leg turned blue, then black, and ice cold, and as it developed sores and blisters, Dr. Lavania provided no treatment for the leg. When he did finally do something, there was nothing to be done but to amputate it.

The Trial

During the course of a trial lasting more than two weeks, Bell and his team proved that Sachin Lavania, M.D., the critical care doctor responsible for caring for Ms. Lockhart in the intensive care unit, failed to uphold the medical standard of care.

In its January 31 verdict, the jury assessed Connie Lockhart’s damages as $4.7 million. The jury found Dr. Lavania and Cherokee Lung and Sleep Specialists 27% at fault for the damages and apportioned most of the remaining verdict to non-parties. Prior to the jury getting the case, the trial judge granted a directed verdict in favor of the ER physician, Dr. Glenn Bloom. That decision will be appealed.

Immediately after the verdict, Dr. Lavania abandoned any right of appeal in return for a settlement for the full amount of his insurance coverage.

For more information about Bell Law Firm’s success in helping victims of medical malpractice, visit www.belllawfirm.com/results.