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Jury finds patient’s heart attack not linked to anesthesia

In a 9-3 vote, a St. Louis County jury sided with the defense in a medical malpractice suit alleging a man received improper care while undergoing surgical anesthesia at St. Mary’s Health Center in Clayton.

Kenneth Gladney suffered a heart attack at St. Mary’s while recovering from outpatient nasal polyp surgery on Jan. 24, 2013. He remained at the hospital for several days but, several days after his release, began suffering symptoms of what he termed a neurological, hypoxic brain injury.

Plaintiff’s attorney John Weller said that his client’s cardiac arrest and hypoxic brain injury was caused by improper administration of the powerful painkiller fentanyl, and that “efforts to resuscitate were below the standard of care for narcotic respiratory and cardiac arrest, as Narcan was not immediately given.”

The primary treating neurologist, Weller added, died suddenly before his deposition, and testimony from subsequent treating neurologists (who, like the first physician, also administered the anti-seizure drug Topamax) indicated that Gladney’s complaints of seizures “had substantially improved” from taking the medication.

“This type of seizure disorder is very hard to prove,” he said.

The defense countered that Gladney’s alleged injuries were caused by unrelated prior injuries, as well as his underlying health conditions.

“(Our expert witnesses) were all able to explain from different perspectives — but very consistently — what had happened, why it happened and why it was not negligence,” said defense attorney Gregory Minana of Husch Blackwell. “This was a known complication for this situation, and we were able to show clearly that the team responded very promptly and aggressively to allow plaintiff the very best recovery.”

The initial complaint, filed in 2015, also named SSM Health Care St. Louis and nurse anesthetist Sara Chrismore as defendants. Both were later dismissed, with Chrismore removed from the case during trial.

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Defense verdict

Medical malpractice

Venue: St. Louis County Circuit Court

Case Number/Date: 16SL-CC01863 /Feb. 17, 2023

Judge: Joseph Walsh III

Plaintiff’s Experts: Dr. Sheldon Deluty, Englewood, New Jersey (anesthesiology); Dr. Sudhir Batchu, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Defendant’s Expert: Dr. Catherine Ifune, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis (anesthesiology)

Caption: Kenneth Gladney v. Anesthesia Partners Ltd.

Plaintiff’s Attorney: John C. Weller, Attorney at Law, St. Louis

Defendant’s Attorneys: Gregory Minana and Tanya Maerz, Husch Blackwell, St. Louis

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