Family of man who died after heart surgery seeks $2 million in damages

WINCHESTER — A Frederick County man’s family claims an Ohio doctor’s negligence led to their father’s death in June after heart surgery.

Stanley E. Zirkle Sr., of Stephenson, died at Winchester Medical Center on June 3, according to a wrongful death medical malpractice lawsuit filed Monday in Winchester Circuit Court. William Ray Zirkle represents the decedent’s estate. The lawsuit names Dr. John H. Arnold, of Cleveland, as the defendant. Arnold was a medical doctor licensed to practice medicine in Virginia at the time of the surgery and the patient’s death.

The plaintiff seeks $2 million for the decedent’s three surviving sons, William Ray Zirkle, Thomas A. Zirkle and Stanley E. Zirkle Jr.

The elder Zirkle underwent a left heart catheterization at the hospital, performed by Dr. Edward V. Bonyak, on June 2. Based upon the results of the procedure the decision was made that the defendant would perform elective surgery — a coronary artery bypass grafting.

The complaint states that as a direct result of the heart catheterization the patient sustained an injury to his right femoral artery, “which is a known risk and potential complication of the procedure, which caused a retroperioneal hemorrhage that the defendant failed to diagnose and repair or to have repaired prior to his commencement of the [coronary artery bypass grafting], despite a significant diminishment in the patient’s hemoglobin and hemocratic levels, as evidenced by testing that had been performed on him prior to that time.”

The complaint notes that testing showed the plaintiff sustained “a significant loss of blood.”

But, according to the suit, the defendant chose to proceed with the coronary artery bypass grafting procedure that required the doctor use blood-thinning medication in the patient’s system. The medication caused the patient’s bleeding to increase, which ultimately led to his death, according to the suit.

The complaint states the defendant showed negligence when he “failed to have appreciated the significance of the decline in his patient’s hemoglobin and hematocrit between 3:13 [a.m.] and 12:11 p.m. on June 3, 2011, which was indicative of an apparent bleed.” The doctor also should have ordered a repeat testing to confirm the patient’s status, which would have shown blood loss, the complaint states. The doctor should have taken steps to find the source and stop the bleeding.

The plaintiff seeks $2 million in compensatory damages for sorrow, mental anguish and emotional stress as well as hospital and funeral expenses.

McLean attorneys Robert B. Adams and Timothy R. Omitts represent the plaintiff.

The defendant has not been served the complaint.