The case involved a patient who presented to the ER after falling down a flight of stairs. After ruling out spinal injury, the physician discharged the patient without a documented abdominal examination, and without abdominal imaging. Two days later, the patient's heart rate was 116. The next day, the patient deteriorated, arrested and received CPR. Surgical exploration identified massive bleeding from a liver laceration, but the patient expired in the OR. Plaintiff's case, presented by a team of distinguished Philadelphia area trial lawyers, criticized the physician for failing to investigate the possibility of intra-abdominal injury from the fall, resulting in death from massive bleeding.
The defense argued that the patient's presentation did not suggest abdominal trauma and therefore the standard of care did not require abdominal examination or imaging. The defense also argued that the patient's arrest was caused by pulmonary embolism, and that the liver laceration was caused by the trauma of CPR.
Despite treating physicians from two hospitals noting alternately in the medical records that the trauma was from the fall, and that the arrest was from blood loss, the jury found for the defense.