Malpractice trial over fatal blood clot begins in Jefferson County

David Yates Nov. 2, 2010, 7:00am

A Jefferson County jury has been tasked to decide whether a Houston physician failed to diagnose a former patient's blood clot.

On behalf of the late Peggy Jones, Trudy McInnis and her family filed suit against Drs. Charles Manner and Kenneth Toppell in March 2009. The plaintiffs claim that during an Aug. 3, 2007, emergency room visit, the physicians failed to detect Jones' pulmonary embolism – a blockage of the lung by a substance that travelled through the bloodstream.

Manner was non-suited March 3.

The trial of McInnis et al vs. Toppell began Monday, Nov. 1, with Judge Bob Wortham, 58th District Court, presiding.

Court records show Jones was admitted to Memorial Hermann Baptist Hospital complaining of shortness of breath and generalized weakness. She was treated by Drs. Manner and Toppell, who prescribed 4 liters of oxygen before discharging her.

The next day, Jones was found in severe respiratory distress and rushed back to the hospital by helicopter. An echocardiogram revealed evidence of right heart strain, suggestive of pulmonary embolism, court papers say.

After a discussion with Jones' treating physicians, the family chose to list her as a "do not resuscitate" patient.

Jones' family alleges Dr. Toppell failed to asses her deteriorating situation and diagnose the pulmonary embolism.

They are asking jurors to award them damages for Jones' pain and suffering, mental anguish and medical expenses.

Provost Umphrey attorney Mark Sparks is representing the plaintiffs.

Dr. Toppell is represented by Houston attorney Joel Sprott.

Case No. A183-477

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