Jury clears doctor of negligent care charge

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Jurors deliberated about two hours Tuesday and decided a physician wasn't to blame for the brain damage suffered by a woman under her care.

The verdict in Richmond County Superior Court came a week after jurors began hearing evidence in the case of Steven Plueger on behalf of his wife, Amy Plueger, against Dr. Connie A. Trello and Acute Care Consultants of Augusta.

Mrs. Plueger was admitted to Doctors Hospital in late March 2003. Initially, physicians believed she was suffering from pneumonia. When her condition worsened, she was transferred to the intensive care unit April 2, 2003.

Dr. Trello saw Mrs. Plueger for the first time in the ICU. Doctors Hospital contracts with Acute Care to provide physicians for that service.

Mrs. Plueger's attorneys contended that she suffered a tension pneumothorax, a compression of her right lung, by midafternoon. A chest X-ray could catch such a condition and a needle inserted into the chest cavity can relive the potentially fatal condition.

Dr. Trello's defense team countered that all the medical signs pointed against a diagnosis of tension pneumothorax during the day, defense attorney Thomas S. Carlock argued to the jury.

Mrs. Plueger was on a ventilator when she went into respiratory and cardiac arrest. Dr. Trello suspected tension pneumothorax at that point and inserted a needle into her chest, but no air escaped. That meant the lung hadn't collapsed, Mr. Carlock said.

The brain damage she suffered because of the lack of oxygen was tragic, but Dr. Trello wasn't responsible, her attorney argued.

The Pluegers' attorney, William L. Ballard, argued that it was negligent for the doctor not to order a chest X-ray during the seven hours Mrs. Plueger spent in the ICU before she crashed.

Mrs. Plueger, then 44, was without a pulse for eight minutes. Since April 2003, she has been unable to move, eat or communicate. She lives in a nursing home.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com.

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WHATDIDIDO
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WHATDIDIDO 06/04/08 - 07:28 am
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Doctors have to make split

Doctors have to make split second decisions. It is so easy to second guess them, especially in cases where a loved one is involved. Sadly some mistakes happen and people die.

I4PUTT
5
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I4PUTT 06/04/08 - 07:42 am
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When was a chest xray last

When was a chest xray last done? A person on a ventilator should have an xray done immediately after intubation and daily there after. Many times doctors are not held responsible for errors in treatment because attorneys don't know what questions to ask. A well prepared attorney would have a trained medical specialist to help in this type of trial. I am not passing judgement on the doc in this case, just speaking in general about these type of cases.

usnvet
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usnvet 06/04/08 - 08:08 am
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The attorneys should have

The attorneys should have asked for a change of venue. Noone can get a fair decision in Augusta when it come to medical malpractice.

ripjones
2
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ripjones 06/04/08 - 08:32 am
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Usnvet - you are mistaken. I

Usnvet - you are mistaken. I know from personal experience. But, I also agree with HYPOCRITES2008.

WAG
287
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WAG 06/04/08 - 09:19 am
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Yes it should have been taken

Yes it should have been taken out of Augusta. This sad news. This Dr. should be held accountant. I know from personal experience dealling with Dr's Hospital. Sorry hospital and sorry Dr's...14 days in hospital for gallbladder surgery...and they could not figure out the problem til I demanded another dr.
A bile leak and this dr should have known right away. but to arrogant to admit his mistake....This drs at hospital said pnuemonia, collapsed lung, blood clot... but guess what bile leak and it took 5 days t figure that out....all the while blaming the patient....then another 3 days in hospital and then another 6 days in another hospital.... I feel so sorry for this woman and her family....Misdiagnosis all around...but they still get big bucks for it...

Shadow8161
27
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Shadow8161 06/04/08 - 10:29 am
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I would not trust this

I would not trust this Hospital with a stray Dog. Previously, being in the medical community, I saw so many cases of staff from this Hospital. The ER is a joke. It should be devided half ER half Morgue. The Customer Service stand there with one hand on ther hip and one hand out saying "Pay or Die" (I have state and Fed insurance) Sad excuse for a Hospital.

jack
10
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jack 06/04/08 - 11:18 am
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I find no excuse for not

I find no excuse for not having made an x-ray, especially when the patient is having diffculty breathing. Seems at University, X-ray is a routine procedure in the ER. A much better hospital than Doctor's IMO.

whyme
1351
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whyme 06/04/08 - 11:46 am
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Nowadays you really have to

Nowadays you really have to be able to stand up for yourself and/or your loved one in hospitals these days. If something doesn't seem right, keep on it, and keep notes, too. On another note, we have to remember again, we are judging this case by what our beloved media allows us to know.

concerned lady citizen
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concerned lady citizen 06/04/08 - 02:05 pm
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If you suffer from a burn

If you suffer from a burn there is no better place to go in the area than Doctors' Hosp. However, stay very far away for anything else. Many have said, "I go there because it is closer to my home." Well folks, convenience can have a sad, terrible result. Having a baby? If you should deliver an infant with special needs it will go to a different hospital and you will not be able to see your baby until you are discharged. So many negatives. . .

truthbeliever
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truthbeliever 06/04/08 - 04:29 pm
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Lots of incompetent people at

Lots of incompetent people at good ol' Doctor's Hospital, even for the miniscule staffing. Lots of high-fallutin hypocrites who don't give a crap about anyone except themselves. They may have decent burn unit, but the rest of the place is substandard by any measure. Wouldn't go there again unless I was unconscious and couldn't make the decision.

demented dave
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demented dave 06/04/08 - 07:53 pm
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Doctors are scum. I wonder

Doctors are scum. I wonder how much they charged the husband for killing his wife.

demented dave
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demented dave 06/04/08 - 09:33 pm
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Tell that to the grieving

Tell that to the grieving husband. I doubt he's terribly impressed with how great Doctors Hospital is.

eddiemoore
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eddiemoore 06/04/08 - 10:27 pm
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I was taken to this sorry

I was taken to this sorry hospital in a ambulance with 3rd degree burns to my face and chest. Because i had no insurance they escorted me to the door

youbetcha
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youbetcha 06/04/08 - 10:33 pm
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So who did you think was

So who did you think was going to to pay your bill? Sounds like you might be sorry yourself!!!!!!!!!!!!!

WW1949
19
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WW1949 06/04/08 - 10:59 pm
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Eddie Moore, Doctors is a

Eddie Moore, Doctors is a private hospital that is for profitl. You should get insurance or go to work for an employer that has insurance. No excuse for you not having some kind of insurance. If you smoke give it up or if you drink give it up and that would probably pay the premium for some insurance. My experience in the ER was a very good one with very good care. Of course, I paid my ER charge and filed insurance.

Sunshine from S. C.
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Sunshine from S. C. 06/05/08 - 04:43 am
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Wouldn't a Chest X-Ray be the

Wouldn't a Chest X-Ray be the Protocol for the Er.? I think this family went after the wrong Doctor. How and why would they have suspected Pneumonia without one?

Sunshine from S. C.
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Sunshine from S. C. 06/05/08 - 04:46 am
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Wouldn't a Chest X-Ray be the

Wouldn't a Chest X-Ray be the Protocol for the Er.? I think this family went after the wrong Doctor. How and why would they have suspected Pneumonia without one?

popmimi
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popmimi 06/05/08 - 07:25 am
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I was at the trial and heard

I was at the trial and heard most of the testimony. I have no doubt that the records were altered before the attorney's obtained them. For almost two years the diagnosis was cardiac arrest caused by a pnumothorax (not sure of spelling). When a lawsuit was initiated the diagnosis was changed. Why? A poor jury who did not understand the medical aspects of the case! Amy will remain in a vegitative state for the remainder of her life due to a misdiagnosis. She did have insurance but the medical bills exceeded the cap. In the end this doctor will have to live with her actions and some day answer for them.

me too
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me too 06/05/08 - 08:50 am
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Dave, you're right about how

Dave, you're right about how much did they charge the husband. A few years ago my husbands first wife was in a car wreck at around 1:30am, she was not remarried and they notified us, so we went to the hospital. We were told "you can see her as soon as they finish a procedure". Two hours later we were told she was dead, in fact, she came in DOA. After all was said and done, we got home around 5:30am. At 8am (on the dot), the phone was ringing. It was the hospital wanting to know who was going to pay the bill. I said "she died this morning" - and was told "I know, so we need to know right now who is going to pay this bill". I hung up on them. Talk about callous and unfeeling.

disssman
6
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disssman 06/05/08 - 09:30 am
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Well lets see from a working

Well lets see from a working person point of view. We inserted a needle into a collapsed lung and no air escaped. Hmm kinda like when your basketball is flat, you stick a needle into it, and no air comes out means it really isn't collapsed? Give me a break. A doctor in an ICU treating a patient for possible Pneumonia, dosen't think an x-ray is needed. I am not saying this doctor didn't know her business, But I believe a good nurse could have taken very good care of this patient. On a side note, did they really charge the husband for the wifes stay. Thats kinda like a mechanic blowing up your car and giving you a bill.

WAG
287
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WAG 06/05/08 - 09:50 am
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This is a sad sad case. A Dr.

This is a sad sad case. A Dr. made a mistake and is not held accountable. And the hospital covered for her. My loved one would have died there if I had not taken her care into my own hands.....By insisting on another Dr.The Dr. is incompetent.....Yet I am not allowed to say his name so as to warn people... DR.------- is the most arrogant self centered person I have ever met. He thinks he is God....
14 days in hospital for gallbladder surgery... Unheard of....
If you want to know who this dr is contact me personally.
Stay away from Dr. Hospital unless you want to die or end up nearly dead....

Just My Opinion
5197
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Just My Opinion 06/05/08 - 02:49 pm
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Wag, I don't know where to

Wag, I don't know where to start with your comments. I'm sorry you had such a bad experience at Doctor's, but I can assure you, problems exist at EVERY hospital and there have been many success stories at Doctor's as well. Personally, each of my children were born at Doctor's, and we had nothing but great experiences with the well-trained and caring nurses and OBGYN. My father died at Doctor's, but it certainly wasn't the fault of the staff...it was just his time to go. The staff was wonderful, keeping Dad fed, clean, comfortable, and pampered in his last hours. My mother was there with pnuemonia and also received competent and compassionate care. The problem you had was really with your doctor/surgeon. No reason to take your anger out on the hospital when it was really him....and I can bet I know who you're talking about! But guess what, wag? This doctor doesn't only practice at Doctor's...he goes to the other hospitals also! Does that mean they're all horrible places?? One more thing, I know Dr. Trello, and she is one of the best in the business. Unfortunately, bad things just happen and only the good Lord knows why.

GreenScreen
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GreenScreen 06/05/08 - 07:18 pm
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Finally, an intelligent

Finally, an intelligent comment from Just My Opinion. That sums it up perfectly. Doctors Hospital is a facility where independent doctors practice. These same MDs practice at other facilities as well. No fault was found in the care rendered by the nurses and other clinical staff at Doctors Hospital or the plaintiff's atty, who is an experienced atty from out of town, would have had an expert who picked up on that AND the hospital would have been named as a defendant. Bottom line...........

mable8
2
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mable8 06/06/08 - 01:42 am
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I wouldn't take my ailing dog

I wouldn't take my ailing dog to Doctor's Hospital which is the worst hospital in hte area. The care given to dying patients at that house of horrors is unbelievable. I speak from experience; the way they treated my dying husband was inhumane.

WAG
287
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WAG 06/06/08 - 07:37 am
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The hospital is responsible

The hospital is responsible when they know something is wrong and they do nothing....Why are they so afraid of this Dr??????
Were they just gonna let my relative die just to keep up his ego?

There was 3 other misdiagnosis before they found the real problem and it was staring them in the face the whole time. I even told them the correct diagnosis..... Dr. and hospital both incompetient.... I don't care if you know Dr. Trello she made a mistake and this woman will never be the same....Bad things dont just happen someone made a mistake.....

Rebelbuyer
30
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Rebelbuyer 06/09/08 - 11:06 am
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No surprise to me that Mr.
Unpublished

No surprise to me that Mr. Pleuger lost in Augusta. Doctor's here are not held accountable for their actions because this town is a medical town and people just refuse to believe that they do anything wrong. The system in Augusta is stacked against the victim. The Judges also help to make it difficult to seek justice. We could all see that when the high school senior was killed by the doctor driving drunk on Riverwatch Parkway a few years ago and all he received was a trivial fine. No one believes the callousness of the medical establishment until it happens to their loved ones. Doctors and lawyers are not as smart as people think they are. At least doctors used to honestly deserve the respect of the community but so many, like lawyers, are just in it for the money. I'll never use a doctor in Augusta for the care of my family....NEVER.

1941
4
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1941 06/09/08 - 11:55 am
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God is Good All The

God is Good All The Time!!!!!!!!!!! I have not been on my computer for a while, as soon as I get back on, the first story I read is about Dr.Trello. Belive it or not I have an appointment with her for this thursday, first one. I am to be seen for a possiable lung problem. I will cancel and go to Aiken Regional. I was not aware that Dr.s Hospital had this type of reputation[bad]If so many people have this many complaints, some of them have to be true. I will take my chances at another hospital an another doctor. Thank you all.!!!!!!!!

youbetcha
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youbetcha 06/09/08 - 09:59 pm
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Dr. Trello is no longer at

Dr. Trello is no longer at Doctors Hospital. You can run but you can not hide!!!! Wake up the only reason everyone is complaining about Doctors is Dr Trello was involved with this case, at Doctors. I bet you didn't know that Dr Trello is a critical care Dr and saw this patient in ICU after she had been under some other Drs care. Dr. Trello is a good Doctor. She is human.

SammiRae
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SammiRae 07/01/08 - 09:55 am
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Medicine is not an exact

Medicine is not an exact science, and Doctors strive to do the best that they can. In essence God is the deciding factors of the outcome. Dr Trello is an excellent Physician and has a conscience and works very hard to save lives. However, It is sad to say but when we dont take care of ourselves and expect Physician to come in a work miracles, sorry thats not possible. This case is sad but how many of us have lost love ones in an unexpected event or circumstances. Some people make it throught triump and some don't the outcome is truly not the Physician it is "GOD" we should't judge a situation without all the facts.

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