August 27, 2004
A Louisville cardiologist attempted a transesophageal echocardiogram to get a clearer view of a patient’s cardiac function. The procedure went poorly, however, and the physician inadvertently perforated the esophagus. The esophagus was correctly repaired, but the patient died a month later. The Plaintiff alleged the doctor did not properly anesthetize the patient before the procedure and the doctor should have proceeded more carefully considering the patient’s medical history. Gerald Toner defended the cardiologist, positing that (1) the perforation was a well-known complication, (2) once perforated, the esophagus was promptly and properly repaired, and (3) it was a cerebrovascular incident that caused the patient’s death, unrelated to the perforated esophagus. The Jefferson County jury found for the defense, returning a unanimous verdict for the cardiologist.