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HORST v. SHEARBURN (09/26/67)

decided: September 26, 1967.

HORST, APPELLANT,
v.
SHEARBURN



Appeal from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, No. 63-11148, in case of Floyd Horst v. Edwin W. Shearburn, M.D.

COUNSEL

Norman Shigon, for appellant.

Francis E. Shields, with him William J. O'Brien, and Pepper, Hamilton & Scheetz, for appellee.

Bell, C. J., Jones, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Chief Justice Bell. Mr. Justice Musmanno and Mr. Justice Cohen took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Bell

[ 426 Pa. Page 439]

The jury returned a verdict for the defendant after a seven-day trial in a malpractice case. The lower Court denied a motion for a new trial. From the judgment entered on the verdict, plaintiff took this appeal.

For three days plaintiff had an uncontrolled frightful bleeding of the nose and was in a very, very critical

[ 426 Pa. Page 440]

    condition. His two able doctors, unable to stop or control this terrible bleeding, called in the defendant for an emergency operation, which was imperative in order to save plaintiff's life. The operation had to be performed within ten hours or plaintiff would have died. During this emergency operation plaintiff had to be given fifteen pints of blood.

Seventeen errors are alleged by plaintiff. It would take more than half a dozen pages to merely state the medical testimony pro and con. We shall therefore briefly summarize it and the pertinent facts. Plaintiff during the operation became partially paralyzed. The real and basic issue in the case is this: Did defendant ligate, as he and his witnesses testified, the external carotid artery, or did he ligate (as plaintiff's witnesses testified) the internal carotid artery? All the witnesses agreed that it would have constituted malpractice to have ligated the internal carotid artery.

The testimony of the defendant, an American board certified surgeon, was supported by another eminent American board certified surgeon, Dr. Brooke Roberts, and by plaintiff's family doctor, Dr. Rendall R. Strawbridge, as well as by defendant's additional doctor, Dr. Louis E. Silcox, a board certified nose, ear and throat specialist, who was the otolaryngologist and chief of staff of that service at the Lankenau Hospital and who had treated plaintiff during the three days prior to the operation.

Plaintiff had three medical witnesses. The trial Judge properly held that one of these witnesses -- Dr. Cyril Wecht -- was not an expert in this field and his opinion was inadmissible.

Plaintiff's next witness, Dr. Michaels, testified that defendant had ligated plaintiff's internal carotid artery, and that this was the cause of plaintiff's semiparalyzed condition. However, Dr. Michaels admitted ...


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