Three doctors to pay $3 million for malpractice
Juries in Vanderburgh County have found three doctors liable for nearly $3 million in damages in two separate medical malpractice trials.
Both trials concluded last week in Vanderburgh Superior Court.
In the first, a jury awarded Henderson, Ky., resident Michael Moore $1.3 million in a 2007 lawsuit against doctors Nghia M. Vo and Chad William Weare, after finding them negligent in the death of his wife, Rebecca Moore. Vo, a surgeon, and Weare, an anesthesiologist, operated on Rebecca Moore on Aug. 26, 2003, and she died Oct. 26, 2003.
Vo is no longer licensed to practice in Indiana, according to the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency.
In the second trial, a jury awarded Christina and Allen Tillerson a total of $1.5 million for the wrongful death of their triplets in June 2001. They claimed Dr. Thomas Hastetter negligently managed her pregnancy, resulting in the premature birth and subsequent death of the three children.
Michael Hance, the Louisville, Ky.-based attorney representing Michael Moore, said Rebecca Moore was admitted to St. Mary's Medical Center on her 50th birthday and underwent surgery for a cyst on her ovary. After the surgery she had difficulty breathing on her own, and four days later, when she was continuing to have abdominal pain, Vo was consulted.
After determining that she had a bowel obstruction that needed to be corrected, Vo operated. The operation lasted just 19 minutes and should have been a quick fix, Hance said.
However, Hance said Vo left the operating room after the surgery and in bringing her back from the anesthesia Weare made the choice to let Rebecca Moore breathe on her own. She then went into respiratory arrest, followed by cardiac arrest. Vo returned and assisted in stopping the arrest, but Rebecca Moore never regained consciousness.
Hance said Vo had determined before the surgery that Rebecca Moore would need respiratory assistance afterward but he failed to communicate it to Weare. He also argued that both doctors failed to do a proper preoperative assessment; had no plan for the surgery; did not communicate with each other and failed to work as a team; and that Weare did not look at the records from Rebecca Moore's previous surgery.
In the second trial, attorneys Richard Schultheis of Indianapolis and Ronald Warrum and Wayne Turpin of Evansville argued that Hastetter was negligent by not acting on evidence from an ultrasound that indicated a problem with Christina Tillerson's pregnancy.
In May 2001, Christina Tillerson underwent a cerclage procedure designed to help delay a premature birth of the triplets. But ultrasounds later indicated irregularities with the procedure and the couple were told to consult their doctor, Hastetter. However, Turpin said Hastetter did not examine her and there was controversy as to whether he looked at the ultrasound results.
Experts testified at the trial that had Hastetter done those things, it would have been possible to take corrective actions that would have delayed the births long enough for the babies to develop more. The babies were less than 21 weeks old at the time.
Kelly Scanlon, an Indianapolis-based attorney who represented Hastetter during the trial for the second of the two lawsuits, declined to discuss specifics of the case so as not to jeopardize a possible appeal.