Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Doctor cleared in malpractice suit

By Anthony McConnell
A former Cody doctor was cleared of medical malpractice Friday.The six-man, six-woman jury took less than one hour to make its decision, delivering the verdict just before 6 p.m.
“I'm grateful the jury found in my favor,” said Dr. L. Charles Christensen of Helena, Mont., while still in the courtroom following the week-long trial. “I'm truly thankful.”In April 2006 Christensen, a urologist, and Dr. Rita Payne, formerly of Cody, were co-defendants in a similar civil lawsuit; the doctors won that case.Judge Wade Waldrip of Rawlins heard the case last week. Plaintiffs attorneys Larry Grubbs and Michael Eiselein of Billings, also the plaintiff's attorneys in the 2006 trial, have several more similar cases pending against Dr. Christensen.Theresa and Juan Pina sought $855,193 from Dr. Christensen for past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. They also sought $75,000 for Juan Pina for the effects his wife's illness had on his life.
“This is a case about complications,” Christensen's attorney, Scott Klosterman of Casper, said in his closing argument. “Complications happen in medicine. They always have, they always will.”“Complications do not equal negligence,” he added. “There is simply no evidence Dr. Christensen is responsible for her condition.”Pina's complications were due to pre-existing conditions not disclosed before surgery, Kolsterman said.Had those preexisting conditions been disclosed Christenen said his treatment would have remained the same.Christensen testified Mrs. Pina was referred to him by Dr. Payne in October 2001 for an incontinence evaluation.During the evaluation Pina revealed her urethra had been damaged during the birth of one of her children.Christensen suspected Pina had a urethral diverticulum, a defect in the urethra, and recommended she have surgery to correct the issue.The surgery involved placing a “sling” around the urethra in an effort to relieve Pina's incontinence.The procedure was scheduled to coincide with a hysterectomy being performed by Dr. Payne.During the surgery Christensen determined Pina did have a diverticulum and performed the sling procedure.“There was no indication the surgery wasn't a success,” Christensen testified.Shortly after her surgery, Pina developed a hole in her urethra. Another surgery was scheduled and performed by Christensen.Throughout his treatment of Pina, there were no signs of infection until after the second surgery, he said.According to Christensen, Pina developed a staff infection two weeks after her second surgery due to a clogged catheter. She was treated with high-dose antibiotics.After the second surgery Christensen referred Pina to a doctor in Denver. That doctor performed a third surgery to correct another hole in her urethra.Pina's suit further alleged Christensen implanted foreign tissue (cadaver tissue) into an inflamed and infected area, putting Pina's health at risk. She also alleged he should have replaced a foley catheter, which the parties agreed was removed too soon by Dr. Payne.When asked why he didn't replace the catheter, Christensen testified that he and Pina decided on self catheterization as a better option.“Given the circumstances I thought that would be the most appropriate option,” he said.When asked about the possibility that the use of cadaver tissue could have caused Pina's complications Christensen said there was no indication the tissue or his treatment was responsible.Two medical experts testified they would have taken the same actions as Dr. Christensen.Mrs. Pina and Grubbs declined comment following the jury verdict Friday night.

source : www.codyenterprise.com

1 comment:

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