Patient Suffers Brain Damage During Heart Surgery

Joseph O'Neill

Written by
— Updated on June 30, 2017

Cardiology Expert WitnessThis case takes place in Massachusetts and involves a patient who underwent a coronary artery bypass graft surgery. During the procedure, the one of the catheters that had been attached to the patient’s arteries came loose, due to an alleged failure by the operating surgeon to properly secure the line. Once the catheter came loose, it took the operating team an extended period of time to re-insert the line. During this period, the patient was left without sufficient oxygen and suffered severe brain damage. The patient is now unable to work, and requires 24-hour care.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. How often are you involved with these types of surgeries?
  • 2. Has a femoral artery catheter ever come loose during a surgery you've participated in?
  • 3. How long should it take to get a catheter back in place?

Expert Witness Response E-007729

I have almost 40 years of cardiac surgery experience, including first assisting in almost 10,000 cardiac surgery cases. I have personally placed more than 1,000 percutaneous femoral arterial and venous lines in that time. I have seen several of these lines inadvertently dislodge or stop functioning. I have also seen several femoral arterial lines result in thigh hematomas. Securing these lines after insertion is paramount to good practice. Placing and replacing a femoral arterial line is very patient-dependent. Morbidly obese patients offer an exceptional challenge. Also, patients with severe atherosclerotic arterial disease present difficulty as well. How long it takes to replace a line can vary from a few minutes to almost an hour. Returning a patient to cardiopulmonary bypass should take less than 10 minutes for an experienced surgical team while still in the OR with an open chest. The availability of a perfusionist and a primed pump is also essential.

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