Naples News has been providing extensive coverage of a court case involving allegations of medical malpractice and wrongful death. It’s rare to see this kind of indepth coverage of an injury-related trial while it is in progress. The deceased was a popular Immokalee civic leader, Ann Olesky, who died on June 13, 2004. A suit was brought by her husband and children in 2006 and ended in a mistrial. The family is trying again.
As in many medical malpractice cases, readers can see the importance of medical experts. In this case, the doctors who treated her and their medical experts are painting a different picture than the medical experts brought in by the family’s personal injury lawyer.
- The family’s experts say the woman died of an aortic dissection that slowly caused blood to leak into the wall of the aorta and the sac around the heart, squeezing the heart. They say the condition could have been detected by an echocardiogram but that test was not done and other test results were not checked by the doctor or relayed by the doctor’s assistant.
- The doctor’s experts say the woman died from an untreatable and undetectable problem – spontaneous and simultaneous dissection of both the right and left coronary arteries. They also say that the Code Blue issued earlier was unrelated to the problem that led to her death.
As in most medical malpractice trials, the information the lawyers need to communicate to the jury is complex. They must educate the jury on the medical conditions in question, on treatment plans and testing procedures.
They also need to help the jury understand the prevailing standard of medical care a patient should receive – that is, what most doctors would do in similar circumstances. That is challenging in a case where the medical experts don’t agree on what caused the patient’s death.
Legal teams often work with artists to prepare materials to present complex information in an understandable way for laypeople. But in the end, it will be the persuasiveness of the expert medical testimony and the strength of the legal arguments that will sway the jury to believe one side or the other.
Source: Naplesnews.com, “Surgeon denies ignoring code blue in wrongful death trial of Immokalee civic leader,” August 29, 2011.