Vail Doctor Sues Over Equipment
By Anne Colden, June 17, 2000
A Vail doctor is suing U.S. Surgical Corp., claiming the company
made a defective piece of equipment that malfunctioned during an
operation and resulted in the death of a patient.
Chow alleged in his suit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in
Denver that the equipment, called a disposable trocar, contained a
U.S. Surgical made the trocar, a razor-sharp
instrument, which is used to penetrate a patient’s abdomen in
laparoscopic surgery. A laparoscope has a small camera that provides an
internal view of the surgical area.
A spring-operated plastic sleeve is supposed to slide down and cover the blade to prevent internal injury.
an operation in 1995 at the Vail Valley Medical Center performed by Dr.
Chow, the trocar’s plastic sleeve failed to slide down and cover the
blade, according to his suit. The exposed blade severed the iliac vein
and artery of the patient, JoAnn Utzig of Edwards, causing massive
Utzig’s family brought a wrongful death suit
against Chow in 1996. In May, an Eagle County District Court jury found
Dr. Chow wasn’t negligent.
U.S. Surgical, based in Norwalk, Conn., didn’t return a call seeking comment.
attorney, Mark Werbner of the Dallas firm, Sayles, Lidji & Werbner,
said Food and Drug Administration records show there were “lots of
incidents reported concerning the trocar that the company didn’t
release publicly, nor tell Dr. Chow.”
According to the complaint,
“U.S. Surgical learned of the risk of injury associated with its
product and failed to provide adequate and timely post-marketing
warnings or instructions.”
Chow’s practice was “essentially
ruined from the aftermath of this patient’s death,” Werbner said. “He
wants the real danger of these instruments brought out through this
Chow also seeks damages sufficient to compensate him for lost income and legal fees.
Copyright 2000 The Denver Post. All rights reserved.