Fatal Blood Clots Followed Knee Surgery, Grieving Husband Says
11-9-2013 01:30:00

     DENVER (CN) - Kaiser’s poor post-surgical care caused a man's wife to die of pulmonary blood clots, a grieving husband claims in a lawsuit filed in the Denver County District Court.
     Vermell E. Hill sued Paul Hautamaa, M.D., Linda J. Jablonski, R.N. and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Colorado, individually and as the surviving spouse of Charlena A. Rachael Hill.
     Charlena Hill, 27, visited Kaiser’s Smoky Hill Clinic, the complaint says, in Jan. 2012 for knee pain, where an MRI revealed a defect or injury to the cartilage in her left knee. She was referred to Kaiser’s orthopedic clinic, where Dr. Hautamaa “recommended a diagnostic arthroscopy and possible repair of the left knee defect,” on Feb. 2, and performed the arthroscopy on March 5, according to the complaint.
     The complaint goes on to say Mrs. Hill “complained to defendant Hautamaa of post-surgical issues which included swelling and pain,” on March 7 and March 15 and told him about numbness in her left big toe on March 20, which Dr. Hautamaa indicated he would monitor.
     However, the next contact mentioned in the complaint was initiated by Mrs. Hill, when she e-mailed the clinic on March 28 for advice about continued swelling. The complaint says Nurse Linda Jablonski called her back but, “the medical record is silent as to what was discussed in this return phone call or message.”
     The complaint continues, “The next day [sic], March 28, Mrs. Hill called her husband late in the afternoon and complained of being fatigued and short of breath. Mr. Hill picked up the decedent at work and took her home. Within moments of arriving at home the decedent became unconscious. Mr. Hill called 9-1-1, the ambulance arrived within a matter of minutes and by [5:53 p.m.] the decedent was in the emergency room at Denver Health & Hospital. Despite best medical efforts, the medical team at Denver Health & Hospital was unable to revive Charlena Hill and she was pronounced dead at [6:59 p.m.] on March 29, 2013. The Denver Medical Examiner determined that the cause of Charlena Hill’s death was pulmonary emboli.” [Brackets added.]
     Mr. Hill accuses Dr. Hautamaa of inadequately evaluating Mrs. Hill’s knee swelling and inadequately supervising Nurse Jablonski, whose care he says “fell below the applicable standard of care for nurses/medical personnel practicing in the same or similar field of practice for a postoperative patient such as Charlena Hill.”
     Vermell Hill seeks compensatory and other damages for medical bills, lost earnings and earning capacity, non-economic losses, pre-judgment interest and court costs including expert witness fees.
     He is represented by Eric L. Steiner and Daniel P. Gerash of Gerash Steiner in Denver.