aura writes; The lawyers for John Ritter’s widow are trying to win an outrageous $67 million dollar judgement from two doctors in the sad death of this wonderful actor. However, Ritter’s chances of surviving a dissecting aorta were about 10% EVEN by the time he got to the hospital. What the jury must understand in this case is that doctors are human beings, and that no matter how young or talented a person might be, it is not always possible to save them.
Ritter was rushed to the hospital from the set of his hit sitcom and presented at the ER sweating, vomiting and in pain. Even though these symptoms are indicative of a dissecting aorta, that catastrophic condition does not occur in a vacuum. From what I understand, Ritter’s dissection occurred on the ascending arch of the aorta, which supplies blood directly to the heart. As his aorta tore, the body started laying down clots to try to reseal the vessel, similar to how it responds when clotting occurs after a skin abrasion. In fact numerous clots were probably being formed as the body attempted to seal the growing tear in Ritter’s aortic arch, and unfortunately and inevitably, these clots broke loose from the vessel wall due to the high pressure coursing through the aorta and enter the heart, causing the famed actor to have a myocardial infarction, also known as a heart attack.
The myocadial infarction or heart attack was a complication that resulted directly from the formation of clots in the aorta caused by the body’s natural response to a repairing damaged tissue. With this being the case, how could the cardiologist be held responsible for misdiagnosing Ritter’s condition. When the cardiologist arrived at the hospital, Ritter was already having an MI caused by the clots forming on the damaged aorta. If the cardiologist had not treated Ritter’s heart attack, he wouldn’t have even lived long enough to make it to the OR, where he passed away in surgery. Since the aorta is one of the major arteries supplying oxygen rich blood to the rest of the body, when it tears or ruptures, organ failure is often times the unfortunate result. This is not something that any doctor can prevent and so therefore they should not be held liable for something that they have no way of controlling.
What the jury needs to know and what Amy Yasback needs to understand is that only 10% of the patients that present to the ER with a rupturing aorta survive that catastrophic condition. Certainly any thoracic or vascular expert must have explained the cause of death to Yasback after her husband passed away, and the many life threatening complications caused by her husband’s condition that can lead to organ failure and death. For this reason, it makes me wonder which Yasback misses more – her husband or the money he could’ve made (or both).