Defendants challenge "junk-science" experts in med-mal suit

By David Yates | Mar 30, 2010

A man who alleges his skin graft became infected because the same needle was used multiple times during a dialysis treatment will soon have to defend the qualifications of the experts in his medical malpractice case.

Lee (Pete) Gaspard filed suit against Renal Care Group and nearly a dozen other medical professionals in November 2006, alleging his care providers neglected to warn him of the dangers of their "incompetent treatment."

On March 1 defendants Dr. Marisa Turner and Southeast Texas Nephrology Associates filed a motion challenging the qualifications and opinions of Gespard's medical experts.

Under Chapter 74 of the Texas Civil Code, plaintiffs are required to submit a medical expert report when filing a medical malpractice claim.

Gaspard, a 57-year old man with end-stage kidney disease and diabetes, went to Renal Care Clinic for dialysis on Nov. 21, 2004. A nurse had to stick him several times with a needle to initiate the treatment, court papers say.

"Mr. Gaspard alleges that his graft became infected because (the nurse) used the same needle to prick him several times, and that he started feeling sick the day when received multiple needle sticks," the motion states.

"The crux of plaintiff's allegations ... is the graft became infected when a dialysis nurse used unsterile techniques ... and that the graft was not timely removed, which allowed bacteria ... to travel to Gaspard's cervical spine (causing osteomyelitis to develop)."

A graft is a vascular access that connects an artery to a vein using a synthetic tube, or graft, implanted under the skin of the arm. The graft becomes an artificial vein that can be used repeatedly for needle placement and blood access during dialysis.

To substantiate his claims, Gaspard submitted the expert reports of Dr. Juan Ayus, a nephrologist, and Dr. Jerrold Dryer, who specializes in infectious disease.

"Neither Dr. Ayus nor Dr. Dryer have shown that their opinions on liability ... are based on a reliable foundation of scientific principle," the motion states. "Without such foundation, their opinions amount to nothing more than junk science."

A hearing on the matter was slated to be held March 29 in Judge Milton Shuffield's 136th District Court. However, the hearing was reset to April 7.

Gaspard is suing for his past and future mental anguish, lost wages and medical expenses.

He is represented in part by attorney Adam Terrell of the Weller, Green, Toups & Terrell law firm.

The defendants are represented by attorney Marion Kruse Jr. of the Kruse Law Firm.

Case No. D178-245

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