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This is a medical malpractice/wrongful death action brought on behalf of Fahima Seleman-Zedan. a 63-year­old Palestinian woman who had previously undergone a successful liver transplant. Several years after her transplant, Mrs. Seleman was found to have abnormal elevations of her liver function tests. Accordingly, she went to Defendant, Cleveland Clinic Foundation ("CCF") for an outpatient liver biopsy.

Mrs. Seleman had previously undergone several bi­opsies in the radiology department under ultrasound guidance without any complications. Instead of having the liver biopsy performed in radiology as had been done previously, the CCF sent Mrs. Seleman to the GI labo­ratory, where an inexperienced fellow was permitted to perform her biopsy. CCF has a written liver biopsy pro­tocol that expressly forbids the performance of liver biopsy on liver transplant patients by inexperienced GI fellows.

The GI fellow determined the location for biopsy by a percussion technique. He allegedly confirmed his site by ultrasound. The GI fellow then inserted the biopsy needle into Mrs. Seleman's side multiple times. Rather than properly inserting the biopsy needle into the liver capsule, the GI fellow put it through Mrs. Seleman's diaphragm the first time. When he fired the biopsy needle, no tissue was obtained.

When no tissue was obtained, the applicable stan­dard of care required the GI fellow to redo his liver percussion in order to make certain that he was in the proper location. Instead of doing that, he proceeded to insert the needle twice as deep and punctured her lung. The GI fellow then fired the biopsy needle and removed a piece of Mrs. Seleman's lung.

Immediately following this second pass, Mrs. Seleman became short of breath. The GI fellow and his supervising attending physician both left the patient's bedside. Shortly thereafter she died as a result of aspi­rating her own blood and suffocating. Mrs. Seleman is survived by her husband, ten children and twenty-five grandchildren.

Injury:  Death.

Result: $2.5 million jury verdict.

Plaintiff's Expert Witnesses: Joseph Awad, M.D., Hepatology, Knoxville, Tenn.; John F. Burke, Jr., Ph.D., Economist

Defendant's Expert Witness: Carl Berg, M.D., Hepatology, Charlottesville, Va.

Plaintiff's Attorneys: Charles Kampinski and Laurel A. Matthews of Charles Kaminski Co, L-P-A­Cleveland, Ohio.

Zedan v. The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. No. 374294 (Cuyahoga County Ct. of Common Piens (ase. Cleveland, Ohio Aug. 16. 2002)




Aug 16, 2002


Medical Malpractice

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