August 22, 2013
Donald Brown and Michael Dailey successfully defended a highly respected pediatric surgeon against allegations of medical malpractice in Jefferson Circuit Court. Plaintiffs alleged that the defendant should not have performed a tracheostomy to treat the infant’s laryngomalacia, a condition in which the immature cartilage of the upper larynx collapses inward during inhalation, causing airway obstruction. Plaintiffs further alleged that the defendant physician negligently failed to diagnose a laryngeal cyst in the infant’s airway. Plaintiffs contended that at the time of treatment, tracheostomy was an outdated treatment modality for children with laryngomalacia, and that supraglottoplasty was the gold standard. Plaintiffs alleged that defendant’s negligence resulted in the infant’s death two months later as the result of a plugged tracheostomy tube. Brown and Dailey countered by establishing that the diagnosis of laryngomalacia was accurate and supported by the patient’s clinical history and presentation as well as imaging studies. To the contrary, there was no support in the medical records for the presence of a laryngeal cyst at the time of treatment. Brown and Dailey established through expert testimony that tracheostomy was a reasonable treatment for the infant’s laryngomalacia, and that supraglottoplasty would have been both risky and potentially ineffective. Brown and Dailey further demonstrated that plugging is a known complication of tracheostomy, and that the infant’s caregivers were thoroughly trained on how to respond to a plugged tracheostomy tube. Though those procedures were unfortunately not followed when the infant’s tracheostomy tube plugged, this was not the result of any negligence on behalf of the defendant physician. The jury ultimately agreed that the defendant acted appropriately and entered a defense verdict finding no fault against him.