Friday, July 20, 2007

Team Weis Scores a Major Victory

The medical malpractice trial that Crewcut Charlie Weis was seemingly losing took a dramatic turn in his favor Thursday.

After Weis finished his testimony in the morning, Massachusetts General doctor Charles Ferguson was called to the stand. It was Ferguson, above right, who performed the gastric bypass procedure on Weis in July 2002.

The surgery was performed on a Friday, then Ferguson left on a weekend residents' retreat on Martha's Vineyard. While Ferguson was away, Weis suffered an internal hemorrhage and became critically ill. Richard Hodin, center, performed a second surgery to stop the hemorrhage on a Sunday night. Weis was in and out of a coma for two weeks.

After getting Ferguson to explain Weis' hemorrhaging in medical terms, Mone was able to get the doctor to admit that if the bleeding had been surgically stopped, the leak likely would not have happened.

"Yes, that’s true," Ferguson said after a long silence. "If Mr. Weis had never had an operation, he might never have had a leak, too."

Was this the defining moment of the trial? To get the answer, we turn to our medical expert, Gary Gaffney, M.D. University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and the owner and operator of the site Steroid Nation:

"Ferguson described the gastric bypass procedure and also commented on how Weis was particularly impatient for results. We learned in the previous trial that Weis confided in Tom Brady first and his wife Maura second, but only days before the surgery was scheduled.

"However unthoughtful for his wife, Weis' secrecy should have no bearing on the outcome, but the Boston Herald details what could turn the trial in Weis' favor:

'An internal hemorrhage Weis suffered while Ferguson was attending a weekend residents' retreat on Martha's Vineyard filled the coach's small bowel with blood, causing it to kink "like a garden hose," Ferguson explained. The pressure tore apart sutures and titanium staples holding together Weis' reconfigured digestive system, leaking toxic waste into his body.'

"The bleeding must have caused changes in Weis' vital signs; however the leakage of the contents of the bowel into Weis abdominal cavity certainly contributed to the near-fatal coma.

"The acknowledgment by Ferguson that if the bleeding had been surgically stopped, the leak likely would not have happened gets to the heart of the matter: that the leaky bowel caused the coma.

"Score major points for the Weis team on this day."

Previous coverage:
Preview: A legal perspective
Day 1: Battle lines drawn
Day 2: Weis' hired hand returns
Day 3:
Weis takes the stand
The mistrial
: A look back at our coverage of the first trial.


farris said...

I am still shocked that I care enough to ensure that I make it here for my daily trial update. Count Buckeye Nation blessed that we don't have to deal with any coaches going under the knife...

Anonymous said...

Score points for Weis??? Really, when the Dr. says that if Weis never had the first surgery, then he wouldn't have had a leak that necessitated the second surgery is a shocker? Or that a second surgery would have stopped the leak from getting worse and thus causing the bowel leakage and subsequent complications and coma is no shocker either. The fact is there were real medical reasons to not rush into a second surgery. It was a judgment call that most surgeons would have been cautious to rush into a second surgery with the breathing problems. Only later when the need for a second surgery outweighed the other concerns was the second surgery performed. So, given the legal analysis for liability, there was nothing here that indicated Weis did not receive the proper standard of care in his case.