Malpractice verdict exceeds $2.8-million

1995-12-09

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The 53-year-old patient died soon after vein surgery. A jury blames the four surgeons.

CLEARWATER – For nine days after his 1991 surgery at Morton Plant Hospital, William Perry was in pain. He could give himself a painkiller, up to four times an hour, by pushing a button on a bedside pump.

Nursing notes show that the Clearwater house painter pushed the button 1,500 times before dying a few days later.

For Gina Perry, steady pain was just one of several signs that something had gone seriously amiss with her father’s surgery. She telephoned his doctor’s office 20 times in eight days, she said, before she was finally told that the doctor was on vacation and his colleagues were overseeing her father’s recovery.

On Friday, a six-member Pinellas Circuit Court jury agreed that medical malpractice led to William Perry’s death. They awarded his daughter $2-million in damages, $800,000 in medical and burial expenses.

“On behalf of our client, we are very grateful,” said Palm harbor Attorney Thomas Carey, who represented Gina Perry. “As far as we know, this is the second largest judgment in Pinellas history,” said co-counsel H. Dennis Rogers.

“This is a tragedy. These are the best doctors Clearwater has to offer and they did nothing wrong,” said Tampa attorney William Hahn, who represented surgeons William Maistrellis, F.R. May, Allen H. Haydon and Peter Blumencranz.

Together, the doctors had performed this surgery 1,800 times without ever losing a patient, Hahn said. Nationally, the death rate from complications is 1 to 2 per cent, he said. “We like to think that doctors can do everything for us. But they are not God.”

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