Margaret Brown, a 71-year-old retiree, was admitted to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Belleville, Ill., in October 2002 to undergo a coronary artery bypass surgery. During the initial stages of the bypass surgery, Brown suffered a pulmonary artery injury. It was claimed in the lawsuit that the artery injury was caused by the insertion of a Swan-Ganz catheterization.
The Swan-Ganz catheter is commonly used by passing a thin tube, which is the catheter, into the right side of the heart and the arteries leading to the lungs to monitor the heart’s blood flow or output during the surgery. The Swan-Ganz catherization is also used to inform doctors and surgeons of an abnormal blood flow. Its use is standard operating procedure for monitoring patient heart and blow flood output in invasive heart surgeries.
In this lawsuit, the family of Margaret Brown maintained that the use of the Swan-Ganz catheter was the cause of her death on Oct. 28, 2002. The family alleged that the defendant anesthesiologist, Dr. Daniel Gillen, was responsible. Their claim was medical battery in that the doctor chose not to obtain consent for the use of the Swan-Ganz catheter by the patient before the beginning of the surgery. Medical battery is a legal cause of action where the medical provider is claimed to have treated the patient without the patient’s consent.