IV Case in Point
Illustrated Verdict shares case examples from our archives to show how a visual strategy can support the defense effort. We hope that it is of value in your practice as you develop your defense strategies on behalf of health care providers. Please feel free to forward it to colleagues or clients.
IV is a leading provider of demonstrative evidence for the defense of medical malpractice claims. Our team of medical illustrators consults with defense teams to educate the lay jury audience about the complexities of medical care. We do this by developing a visual strategy with expert witnesses including high-quality case-specific medical illustrations, x-ray enhancements, and multimedia presentations. IV receives judgment for the defense in over 94% of the cases we participate in, as compared to the national average of 73%. Additionally, insurers who supply us with their trial list enjoy a win rate of up to 97%.
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Case In Point Library
Click to view other editions:
Case In Point Library Page
Pregnancy and Delivery:
Fetal Assessment 2009v1
Shoulder Dystocia 2009v3
MVA Leads to Fetal Demise 2010v4
Fetal Descent Stalled 2010v5
Shoulder Dystocia / Erb's 2011v4
Fetal Tracings / Hypoxic Injury? 2013v1
Coronary Artery Disease 2009v5
CAD / Recurrent MI 2010v1
Aortic Valve Replacement 2011v1
Stroke After Lung Surgery 2009v2
PE / Infection 2010v3
PE Following Roux En Y 2012v1
Intubation / Macklin Effect 2012v4
Lung Cancer vs. Infection 2015v3
Hysterectomy / Fistula 2011v9
Hysterectomy / Ureter Injury 2010v2
Hysterectomy / Kinked Ureter 2010v8
Diag Lap / Bowel Injury 2012v3
Cervical Cancer 2013v3
Endometrial Cancer 2014v1
Bladder Cancer 2013v2
Gastric Bypass 2009v6
Recurrent Hiatal Hernia 2009v8
Right Colectomy / Leak 2010v7
Gastric Bypass / Volvulus 2011v2
Nissen Fundoplication 2011v3
Large Hiatal Hernia 2013v5
Necrotizing Enterocolitis 2013v7
Arrest during ERCP 2015v4
Diverticulitis Complications 2015v5
Spleen Injury and Bleed 2009v4
Bleed Following Lithotripsy 2012v2
Lap Cholecystectomy 2012v5
Bowel Injury Lap Ovarian Cyst Removal 2013v6
LapChole - Hepatic Duct Injury2015v1
Partial Hip Replacement 2010v6
tPA Infusion 2009v7
Vertebral A. Coil Embolization 2015v7
Head and Neck:
Bell's Palsy 2013v4
Tongue Cancer 2014v2
Chiari I - Vision Loss 2015v2
Judgment for the Defense
Midgut Volvulus Following Gastric Bypass
and Ventral Hernia Repairs
The plaintiff underwent an uncomplicated gastric bypass procedure in 1999, followed by a successful ventral hernia repair in early 2001. Subsequently, in December 2001, she had an elective procedure by a general surgeon, in collaboration with a plastic surgeon, solely to repair abdominal wall laxity, with no bowel herniation present. The plaintiff tolerated the procedure well and was admitted post-operatively to the Plastic Surgery service. In the recovery room a few hours later, however, she complained of significant pain and nausea, which was brought under control with medication.
The next day, the plaintiff’s pain returned, and an initial upright x-ray film revealed apparent enlargement of the colon. A complete series of abdominal x-rays confirmed the initial finding of colonic enlargement and raised the possibility of Ogilvie Syndrome (acute pseudo-obstruction and dilation of the colon in the absence of any mechanical obstruction).
A barium enema demonstrated no distal obstruction of the colon but indicated distention in the ascending and transverse colon. At that point, the plaintiff was transferred to the General Surgery service for further evaluation of her abdominal distention, low blood pressure, and urine output. GI and renal consults were obtained, and a CT scan showed an enlarged colon with no obstruction, consistent with the Ogilvie Syndrome diagnosis.
An x-ray taken three days following the plaintiff’s surgery showed colonic distention with increased enlargement to the small bowel, which was interpreted as progression of the Ogilvie Syndrome. The plaintiff was transferred to the Surgical Intensive Care Unit, where a colonoscopy showed dilation of the ascending and transverse colon but a normal distal colon to the cecum. The surgical team placed a rectal tube to facilitate bowel decompression but a follow-up abdominal x-ray several hours later revealed marked dilation of the transverse colon that terminated near the splenic flexure. At that time, surgery was recommended to identify the reason for continued enlargement of the colon. During the procedure a large midgut volvulus with three rotations of the small bowel and colon was discovered. Following extensive surgery to remove the nonviable intestine, the plaintiff experienced further complications; her condition eventually deteriorated to the point that the family decided to remove life support, and the patient died.
Attorneys for the plaintiff claimed that the midgut volvulus should have been discovered during the procedure to repair her abdominal wall laxity. Furthermore, they argued, the actual cause of the plaintiff’s colonic distention following the initial surgery should have been recognized and addressed sooner in the post-operative course, before irreversible damage to the small bowel and colon had occurred. Finally, given the plaintiff’s prior gastric bypass surgery, the plaintiff’s attorneys contended that the clinicians should have suspected something more serious was behind the colon dilation and been more aggressive in her care.
The defense raised the counterargument that the procedure to repair the plaintiff’s abdominal wall laxity did not require the surgeons to enter the peritoneal cavity, where the intestines would have been exposed, allowing a diagnosis of any problems with the colon or small bowel. Moreover, the operation did not involve the intestines, making it highly unlikely it would itself cause a volvulus; the diagnosis of this rare condition was thus even more challenging. The defense contended that the plaintiff was followed closely during her postoperative course, with constant monitoring of her vital signs and laboratory studies for signs of serious infection. In additional, the plaintiff’s care was consistent and vigilant: more than nine physicians from multiple disciplines were involved in the effort to diagnose and treat her colonic dilation.
Collaborating with experts and with the defense attorneys, IV created visual aids to help illustrate the defendants’ positions.
The first board explained the normal digestive system.
A second board explained the changes in the plaintiff’s anatomy resulting from the gastric bypass procedure done prior to the abdominal wall repair surgery.
The defense attorneys for the surgeons who repaired the plaintiff’s abdominal wall laxity wanted the jury to be clear about the difference between the anterior abdominal wall and the peritoneal cavity (the location of the small bowel and the colon). We created a board illustrating the sagittal and anterior view of the abdomen to show clearly these two distinct areas of the body.
The next series of diagrams showed the procedure performed to repair the plaintiff’s abdominal wall laxity.
Finally, we created a diagram showing the extent of the plaintiff’s midgut volvulus.
This series of illustrations helped the defense to convey successfully to the jury the following key points:
- The surgeons who performed the procedure to repair the plaintiff’s anterior wall laxity did not enter the peritoneal cavity and so never viewed or came in contact with her intestines.
- A midgut volvulus is an extremely rare condition, and its diagnosis is especially unlikely following a procedure that did not directly involve the colon or small bowel.
The jury found in favor of the defense for all of the defendants named in the case.
"Thank you for your help—we got defense verdicts for everyone yesterday afternoon.”
—Attorney, Alan Rindler, Rindler & Morgan, Boston, MA
“In almost every case we try, communicating with jurors and allowing our physician clients to fully educate jurors is greatly enhanced by our partnering with IV. The illustrations are always clear and helpful, but more importantly, accurate and whenever practicable, specific to the case. IV works closely not only with the attorneys, but also the experts and physician clients to make sure that everyone is in agreement regarding the accuracy and relevance of the illustrations.”
—Attorney, George Wakeman, Adler, Cohen, Harvey, Wakeman and Guekguezian LLP, Boston, MA