Saturday, February 17, 2007

Brady Engineers Another Comeback

Charlie Weis' sometimes-clinical malpractice trial against Massachusetts General Hospital doctors Charles Ferguson and Richard Hodin took on rockstar status Friday when New England quarterback Tom Brady took the witness stand.

Brady, who testified on behalf of his former quarterback coach, arrived first class, taking the prisoners' elevator to evade a media crush and entered the courtroom flanked by court officers. The Boston Herald described a "tanned and trim Brady" striding "gamely into Judge Charles Spurlock's courtroom as eyes swiveled."

An officer wagged a finger at onlookers and warned, "Don't anyone get cute with those picture phones."

Brady testified for only 24 minutes, but it was clear he owned the room and gave a boost to Weis' hopes of a favorable verdict. Brady, dressed in a dark pinstriped suit with a white pocket square, told the jury that Weis has never been the same after suffering complications from gastric-bypass surgery. "I just remember him expressing the pain he was in," Brady said, pausing to look at the jury. "Charlie was never one to complain. He toughs it out."

In true Brady fashion, he closed strong by joking that he always roots for Weis and his Notre Dame team except when they play Michigan, Brady's alma mater. The jurors all laughed.

After Brady's testimony, Weis' attorneys rested their case.

Earlier, Ferguson took the stand and said Weis showed no post-operative problems on Friday, the day of the surgery, and that he felt confident leaving Weis under the care of Hodin for the weekend. Ferguson said when he returned on Monday, Weis was "critically ill."

Ferguson, right, also countered claims made a day earlier by Alan Wittgrove, the surgeon who was brought in at a fee of $7,500 to testify on behalf of Team Weis. Wittgrove had criticized Ferguson and Hodin for continuing to administer the blood-thinning drug Heparin, with Ferguson saying the drug was used to prevent a pulmonary (lung) embolism (blood clot).

Ferguson also took a shot at Weis for accelerating the pre-operation program. "I was concerned he did not go through the normal six-week training session to teach you how to eat and what to eat after the operation. He told me he had done the research on this and he didn't have any questions."

Let's bring our expert, Gary Gaffney, M.D., University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and the man behind Steroid Nation, for an opinion on Day 4 of the trial.

"Friday's court actions consisted of two parts: the event and the testimony.

"The event: Brady's appearance. Brady signed autographs, smiled for the cameras and gave solid testimony. He related how Weis' level of consciousness fluctuated after the second surgery to stop bleeding. And he said that Weis appeared to suffer greatly from leg pain.

"The testimony: It came from Ferguson, who performed the gastric bypass, only to return on Monday to learn that Weis had undergone a second operation to stop internal bleeding.

"Ferguson countered Wittgrove's criticism from a day earlier on the use of Heparin, saying this was standard procedure to prevent blood clots. Wittgrove had also been critical of Ferguson and Hodin for not monitoring thiamine levels. Ferguson said that thiamine had been added to Weis' IV infusion.

"Lastly, Ferguson reiterated how Weis rushed to surgery, non-compliant with the six-week pre-surgery training.

"By saying that under his care, Weis did well, it appears that Ferguson was trying to disassociate himself from Hodin, who was supervising Weis during the weekend. It may have cleared the air about some charges of negligence against him.

"Although Ferguson expressed concern that Weis was rushing into surgery, the doctor could have declined the operation and made Weis play by the usual rules.

"We still do not have a complete picture of the critical period from Saturday morning, when Weis started complaining of pain, until a barium swallow revealed internal bleeding Sunday that led to corrective surgery."

Previous coverage:
Day 3: Weis' hired hand
Day 2: Weis testifies
Day 1: Opening statements
Preview: A legal perspective
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Cool Hand Mike said...

As soon as they put Tom Brady's name on the potential witness list, I would've requested a immediate change of venue. There is no way to get a fair jury trail in Boston.

Anonymous said...

I'm a MD and if this is the best that Weis' lawyers can put up, it will truly be a miscarriage of justice if they win. Thiamine deficiency has NOTHING to do with this. A complete red herring. It's a chronic problem after the surgery, not an acute one.

Even worse is criticising them for using heparin for DVT prophylaxis. DVT->PE->death, and there's nothing you can do about it except watch them die. Heparin can cause bleeding, but guess what? You can go in and fix the bleeding, just like they did. If they HADN'T used heparin and Weis threw a clot, now that would truly be malpractice.

This case truly highlights how absurd the malpractice system is. Weis will probably win since he can afford $7500 hired guns and Tom Brady to testify for him, while people who are the victims of actual bad care (and I've seen it) won't get jack because they're not worth $$$.

kyyank11 said...

Hey Doc, can you confirm when the surgery occurred that this was still relatively new and no one was really sure of anything but a lot of risk was involved? Further, it appears Charlie wanted the liposuction but not the adherence to regimen required to actually make this work. He is a walking poster child for these people wanting a miracle cure but not willing to pay their dues.