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Berry v. Cardiology Consultants, P.A.

Superior Court of Delaware
909 A.2d 611 (2006)


Facts

Berry (plaintiff) was a patient of Dr. Andrew Doorey (defendant), a cardiologist, for 12 years before his death. Berry experienced atrial fibrillation after cardiac bypass surgery and was given Amiodarone under the direction of the surgical staff. Doorey reviewed the decision the next day after another incidence of atrial fibrillation. During a scheduled post-operation appointment, Berry was given a prescription for Amiodarone by Doorey, which he never filled. Two months later, Berry returned to the hospital with pulmonary complaints. A different cardiologist examined Berry and noted in his medical record that his symptoms may have resulted from the use of the Amiodarone and recommended that Berry stop using it. Berry died a few weeks later. His death certificate stated that the cause of death was Acute Pneumonitis and Amiodarone Toxicity. Berry’s estate (plaintiff) filed a negligence action against Doorey and his employer, Cardiology Consultants, P.A. (defendant). During a jury trial, Berry’s two expert witnesses testified that the amount of Amiodarone given to Berry was more than double that allowed by the standard of care. Berry’s estate introduced into evidence the hospital’s Cardiac Surgery Service Manual (CSSM) that contains an algorithm showing the appropriate dosage and regimen for administering Amiodarone. The algorithm indicated that when there is post cardiac surgery atrial fibrillation, the appropriate dosage of Amiodarone was 400 mg for 5-7 days, and 200 mg per day thereafter. Berry was given more than the recommended dosage. An expert witness for Doorey testified that a separate American College of Cardiology (ACC) algorithm for the administration of Amiodarone was applicable as the appropriate standard of care and was admitted into evidence. A jury returned a verdict in favor of Doorey and Cardiology Consultants and Berry’s estate moved for a new trial, arguing, among other things, that the ACC algorithm should not have been allowed into evidence.

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Holding and Reasoning (Del Pesco, J.)

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