A Salt Lake Medical Malpractice trial – Winn v McKinlay and Todd, #170902137, Third District Court for Salt Lake County (Judge Laura Scott) started yesterday with virtual jury selection. Opening statements are tomorrow morning, November 5th.

Update: There will not be a WebEx link released for this trial, and in-person observation will not be allowed. 

The claim alleges that the 46-year old plaintiff suffered a disabling pulmonary embolus because of the failure of her weight-loss surgeon to properly anticoagulate her after surgery, and because an emergency medicine physician failed to diagnose the clot. This is a complex case, both on the medicine and on the damages issues, with many fact and expert witnesses. Trial should last through November 23rd.

​The Amended Complaint alleges that Holly Winn underwent surgery for weight reduction at St. Mark’s Hospital on August 15, 2015. Dr. Rodrick McKinlay was her surgeon. Ms. Winn had a history of deep vein thrombosis after a knee surgery in 2012, so her pulmonologist, Dr. Garrett Bird, first evaluated and cleared Ms. Winn for the weight-loss surgery. Dr. Bird wrote instructions for pre and post-surgical Lovenox (a blood thinner) that were forwarded to Dr. McKinlay’s group, Rocky Mountain Associated Physicians. Unfortunately (plaintiffs claim), these instructions were misplaced in an insurance file rather than in Ms. Winn’s medical record. Ms. Winn also alleges that she was given a copy of these instructions, and that she gave them to Dr. McKinlay.

Lovenox was given as prescribed before the surgery, and the surgery itself went well. Postoperatively, Ms. Winn received a brief course of heparin, but was discharged a day after surgery without continuing anticoagulation, contrary to the suggestion of Dr. Bird. By August 19th, she was experiencing shoulder pain and trouble breathing. She went to Intermountain Riverton Hospital and was evaluated by Dr. Luisa Todd, an emergency medicine specialist. A chest CT was done which showed no evidence of pulmonary embolism and a shoulder ultrasound showed no evidence of a clot. Dr. Todd diagnosed musculoskeletal pain.

On August 27th, Ms. Winn suffered a massive pulmonary embolism with cardiopulmonary arrest, kidney failure, and severe ischemic brain injury. She spent several weeks in intensive care and then a month in rehabilitation. She alleges she is permanently disabled from work, has incurred massive medical expenses, and will incur lifetime care costs in the future. The past and future economic damage claim exceeds $9,000,000. There is also a loss of consortium claim for Steve Winn, Holly’s husband.

The negligence claim is that Dr. McKinlay failed to follow the recommendations on anticoagulation or otherwise medicate to prevent a DVT and PE. As to Dr. Todd, the gist of the claim is that further testing should have been done to rule out a PE, or referral made for further workup.

Needless to say, the defendants hotly dispute the allegations of negligence. Dr. McKinlay and his experts will testify that Ms. Winn was ambulatory on discharge and was in no need of further anticoagulation for another two weeks, as suggested by Dr. Bird. The standard of care did not require that, regardless of what the pulmonologist might have recommended.

Dr. Todd and her experts will testify that she did a careful and thorough workup for the possibility of a pulmonary embolus and found nothing. Ms. Winn was asked to follow-up with her primary care provider, or to return to the ER if there were any further problems, but she failed to do so. Had she done do, complications from the developing PE would have been averted.

Defendants also dispute many aspects of the plaintiffs’ life care plan, the claimed loss of earning capacity, and the extent of her neurological injury. There was much pretrial motion practice concerning the opinions and qualifications of the dueling life care planners, Sheryl Wainwright and Lora White.

A Note

As seems to be common these days, a plethora of motions in limine were filed. These address all sorts of issues on improper argument, evidentiary matters, experts, and counsel’s anticipated conduct. There’s an interesting set of briefs on keeping the consent form out of evidence where informed consent is not at issue. In short, the court file is massive. 

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Salt Lake Medical Malpractice Attorney Blog