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Deputy Sheriff Suffers Fatal Pulmonary Embolism After Doctor Stops Medication

The standard of care at a Southern California rehabilitation hospital fell to the wayside when a doctor employed there deviated from a patient’s treatment plan. The internal medicine doctor at the rehabilitation hospital treated a 54-year-old deputy sheriff who suffered catastrophic injuries following a horrific motor vehicle accident. The remis doctor decided to discharge the victim so he could continue healing at home. Irresponsibly, the internist discontinued the patient’s prescription for Lovenox, a prophylaxis intended to prevent deep vein thrombosis. The patient and his family trusted the doctor’s medical decision-making. However, as the Lovenox left the patient’s system, he developed blood clots in his legs. As a result, the patient developed an embolism and tragically died eight days into his at-home recovery.

The deputy sheriff had suffered an array of devastating orthopedic, intestinal, and vascular injuries in the car accident. Notably, to help heal fractures on his right lower leg and foot, doctors fitted him with an external fixator to stabilize the broken bones into proper position. While the injuries healed, the officer couldn’t move his foot, which raised the risk of blood clots. Thus, they prescribed Lovenox.

Despite being unable to ambulate or put any pressure on his legs, the patient was sent home from the rehabilitation hospital to further recover, the fixator still attached to his leg. While he lay immobile and bedridden, blood began to pool in his legs. Because he was prematurely taken off Lovenox, clots formed in his upper thigh, then grievously traveled to his heart and lungs, causing a fatal pulmonary embolism. The beloved deputy sheriff left behind a loving wife, two adult children, and a community where he had served as a police officer for many years.

At the hands of medical malpractice, the deputy sheriff’s wife was determined to seek justice for her late husband. After mourning their loved one’s passing, the victim’s family secured Jason Argos of the personal injury law firm Kohan & Bablove. He began investigating the wrongful death case by taking more than 20 depositions from the victim’s medical providers. Jason knew it would be a journey to justice. That being so, he hired several clinical experts who aided his legal battle. The team included a hematologist, an internal medicine doctor, a rehabilitation specialist, and an economist.

Attempting to muddy the waters, the Defense argued that the doctor who treated the deputy sheriff had not been negligent. They claimed that the doctor followed the manufacturer’s dosing schedule for Lovenox — 7 to 11 days. However, anything administered beyond that period would have been considered “extended” prophylaxis, subject to the physician’s judgment.

Unable to disprove the manufacturer’s dosing instructions, Jason raised issues with the doctor’s judgment. He then argued that no reasonable or careful internist would have ever taken a patient off Lovenox — particularly, someone in critical condition, as the Plaintiff’s husband was.

Ultimately, Jason hired DK Global for a demonstrative to show jurors exactly how the doctor’s actions and negligence had set the stage for the fatal pulmonary embolism. Using the autopsy report, Jason and an expert hematologist worked with DK Global to create an animation depicting the patient’s condition.

The animation opened with the long list of injuries the patient suffered that landed him in the hospital, followed by the list of the medical procedures he underwent. Next, the video showed the patient with an external fixator attached to his right lower leg, accompanied by an explanation of how the injuries he sustained to his legs raised the risk of embolism.

The animation continued by describing the amount of Lovenox the patient had been receiving at the hospital, noting that it was discontinued upon discharge. Then, the video depicted a clot forming in the patient’s right femoral artery. The clot broke apart sending embolisms up his bloodstream. Finally, the clots were shown lodging in the patient’s pulmonary arteries, with two gross embolisms in his lungs and multiple microscopic emboli spread throughout.

The Defense refused to mediate, so the case went to trial. Jason understood the uncertainty that came with arguing in front of a jury and prepared his client for the worst. He showed the animation while his expert hematologist testified, pausing to allow the doctor to walk the jury through each step of the presentation. Ultimately the jurors agreed with Jason’s negligence, causation, and damages arguments against the Defense. They rendered a verdict of $2,150,000 in favor of the late deputy sheriff’s family.

Jason Argos is the Senior Trial Counsel at Kohan & Bablove, a firm specializing in personal injury and medical negligence cases. Jason has been an attorney since 2011 and practices in California and Minnesota. He was named a Southern California Super Lawyers “Rising Star” for eight consecutive years. He is a proud member of the Minnesota Association of Justice, the Consumer Attorneys of California, Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles, and the Orange County Trial Lawyers Association. For four years, Jason served on the Executive Committee for the Personal Injury section of the Beverly Hills Bar Association.


"If we're in a situation where I feel like the records aren't doing a sufficient job in telling that story for us, that's when I'd want to get DK involved."
Jason Argos - Kohan & Bablove Injury Attorneys
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