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Deadly DVT: Man Dies From Pulmonary Embolism Following Leg Tendon Surgery

Lawsuit: Doctors and physical therapists should have recognized the man suffered a pulmonary embolism following surgery to repair a torn leg tendon.

Published: November 29, 2017

BLOOD CLOT The family's attorney says that the patient suffered a pulmonary embolism after surgery to repair a tendon in his leg.

The family of a man who died of a blood clot he suffered less than 2 months after a 2011 surgery to repair a quadriceps tendon has sued the hospital, 2 of its doctors and a physical therapist for failing to catch the deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in time, court records show.

After a 2-week trial, a jury ordered Elmhurst (Ill.) Memorial Hospital to pay $3 million to the family of Edward Smolinski, 52, for failing to "prevent, diagnose and treat a pulmonary embolus following surgery to repair a quadriceps tendon in (Mr. Smolinski's) left leg," according to a statement from Clifford Law Offices.

The hospital declined to comment on the case Monday.

Although it's preventable, almost 300,000 Americans die annually from DVT and its primary complication, pulmonary embolism. Fortunately, if caught in time, the risk of post-surgical DVT is completely treatable.

According to the complaint, Mr. Smolinski ruptured a tendon in his leg when he fell from the cab of his work truck in 2011. Gregory Dairyko, MD, performed a surgical repair of his left quadriceps tendon on June 8, the suit says. Mr. Smolinski returned on June 21 for a post-op visit, complaining of a cough, shortness of breath, sweating, upper chest pain and malaise. He was evaluated by Vineet Singla, DO, a family medicine doctor, and later by Dr. Dairyko, the suit says.

The suit alleges that Dr. Dairyko and Dr. Singla failed to notice that Mr. Smolinski, "was at risk for the development of a deep venous thrombosis and/or pulmonary embolism based on his inactivity after surgery." The doctors also neglected to order anticoagulation therapy for Mr. Smolinski after surgery to prevent DVT or a pulmonary embolism, the suit says.

The suit also alleges that Dr. Singla failed to evaluate Mr. Smolinski for DVT or pulmonary embolism after he complained of shortness of breath and chest pain.

The suit said that when Mr. Smolinski went to Jennifer Specht for physical therapy on June 28, she too, was negligent in her treatment. She did not report Mr. Smolinski's shortness of breath, tachycardia and rib pain to Dr. Dairyko, the suit says. She also neglected to tell the doctor about a 10 cm swelling above the suprapatellar region of Mr. Smolinski's left leg, according to the lawsuit.

Mr. Smolinski died as a result of his injuries less than 2 months after his surgery, on July 28, 2011.

Anna Merriman

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