A jury was selected last Friday in Holmes v. Davis et al., Hon. Richard Mrazik, #170500575 (Third District Court for Summit County, Utah, Silver Summit District). Opening statements and evidence begin on Tuesday, and this Park City, Utah medical malpractice trial is scheduled to go for eight days.On December 30, 2015, during surgery at Park City Hospital to repair a hip fracture, 47-year-old Patrick Holmes was allowed to drop from the operating table while unconscious under anesthesia. Plaintiffs claim that Mr. Holmes' head landed on the metal wheel cover of the table, splitting it open, concussing him, and causing his neck to flex forward with enough force to tear ligaments and rupture two cervical discs.The surgeon was Dr. Garrett Davis, assisted by Troy Johnson, PA-C. The anesthesiologist was Ryan
Ferguson, M.D. Two nurses employed by the hospital were also in attendance.A specialized operating table known as a "Hana Table" was used. This allows better access to the hip joint for the surgeon. In the illustration below, one can see how important the central perineal post is for keeping the patient safely on the table. Restraining straps (not shown) are also used until the surgery is finished.
When the surgery is over, four people are used to assist in the transfer from the Hana Table to the gurney-- the anesthesiologist (in command), a nurse on each side of the patient, and the physician assistant, who removes the perineal post when all is ready.
Here, the claim is that the fall was caused by:
Here is the Complaint (filed by prior counsel).
- Troy Johnson, who precipitated the fall by removing the perineal post, and then lifting up Patrick’s legs so that when he involuntarily moved while coming out of anesthesia he fell from the table and onto his head;
- Dr. Davis, who left the operating room and placed Patrick’s care and wellbeing in the hands of his allegedly untested, untrained, and inexperienced PA; and
- Dr. Ferguson, who was supposed to be directing the transfer process but had turned his back to and walked away from the bed without giving any guidance or direction.
- The two nurses-- both employed by Park City Hospital- are no longer parties to the case as the hospital settled out before trial.
Dr. Ferguson died during this this litigation. This leaves his estate, physician assistant Johnson, and Dr. Davis as the remaining defendants.
Mr. Holmes claims a TBI with permanent cognitive injuries as well cervical spine damage that required a fusion. Past and future medical expenses claimed are 1.7M. Loss of past earnings and future earning capacity are claimed as between 3.2M and 4.9M. There is also a loss of consortium claim for his wife, Jennifer Holmes.
While the defendants recognize that patients generally should not be falling off of operating tables, there is substantial disagreement concerning who among them is responsible here. The anesthesiologist admits that he was in charge of the transfer, but states that the PA removed the perineal post without instruction, unexpectedly, and at a point the others were not ready to make the transfer. Dr. Davis recognizes that he is ultimately responsible for any fault of his PA, but denies that Mr. Johnson was in any way unqualified or unprepared, or that the surgeon needs to be present when the operation is completed and the patient is being transferred to recovery. PA Johnson strongly disputes the anesthesiologist's version of events, and testified he did his job as expected. And all the remaining defendants place some blame on the nurses no longer in the suit.
The defendants vigorously dispute the damage claims. They, and their biomechanical expert, contend that Mr. Holmes's fall was able to be controlled by Dr. Ferguson's last-second intervention, so the injuries were not really that severe. The defendants also assert that his cervical spine was not injured enough to need a fusion. They dispute the claim of any TBI or permanent injuries from what they see as essentially a bad bump on the head. And they contend that the lost earning capacity claim is grossly inflated.