Medical Verdicts

Would heparin have prevented death?


Hardin County (Ky) Circuit Court

A 46-year-old woman underwent a 3-hour-long vaginal hysterectomy. Before surgery and during recovery, an intermittent pneumatic cuff was used to minimize the risk of deep venous thrombosis.

A week after the surgery, 2 days after discharge, she reported extreme fatigue and trouble standing up. Despite the ObGyn’s advice to walk around, she stayed in bed. A few hours later she died suddenly of a pulmonary embolus. In suing, the woman’s family claimed the physician failed to prescribe heparin in response to the risk of pulmonary embolism, given the woman’s age and long duration of surgery.

Although the ObGyn admitted the woman was at high risk of pulmonary embolism, he contended that application of the pneumatic cuff was sufficient and that prophylactic heparin was not necessary.

  • The jury returned a defense verdict.
The cases in this column are selected by the editors of OBG Management from Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts, with permission of the editor, Lewis Laska, of Nashville, Tenn ( The available information about the cases presented here is sometimes incomplete; thus, pertinent details of a given situation may be unavailable. Moreover, the cases may or may not have merit. Nevertheless, these cases represent the types of clinical situations that typically result in litigation and are meant to illustrate nationwide variation in jury verdicts and awards.

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