CHEYENNE – Cheyenne Radiology Group and a local doctor were found not liable Tuesday in Laramie County District Court after about a week-long wrongful death civil jury trial.
The case stems from the death of Gail Chapple, who died Dec. 9, 2017, after being admitted to Cheyenne Regional Medical Center due to bleeding from a colonoscopy. While she was there, Dr. William Ketcham of Cheyenne Radiology Group took over her care for a gastrointestinal hemorrhage.
The lawsuit alleged that Ketcham performed a “improper and negligent” procedure on Chapple’s bowels to stop the bleeding. The suit said during the procedure to stop the bleeding, Ketcham used an excessive quantity of embolization agent and caused an infarction of Chapple’s small intestine and cecum.
However, the jury found this wasn’t the case, and Ketcham didn’t breach the standard of care for Chapple.
“Gail Chapple came to the emergency room desperately ill because of bleeding in her bowel. Dr. Ketcham was called and asked to come to the hospital to stop the bleeding and try to save her life from that immediate threat,” said George Powers, attorney for Ketcham and Cheyenne Radiology.
Lawyers for Shane Chapple, the wrongful death representative in the case, didn’t return calls as of press time.
Powers said the jury only had one question to answer: whether Ketcham violated the standard of care when he was Gail Chapple’s doctor. The jury unanimously decided no, he didn’t violate that standard.
Standard of care is a term used in state law and the medical community to define how a doctor should treat and care for a patient. Standard of care has a fluid definition that varies depending on state law and throughout time, according to an article in the U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health.
“He was successful,” Powers said. “Unfortunately, because of preexisting conditions, Gail Chapple was unable to recover from the effects of the bleed and later died. Dr. Ketcham did nothing wrong, he met the standard of care, and that is exactly what is reflected in the jury’s verdict.”
The lawsuit was asking for medical expenses associated with the illness, burial expenses, and the loss of care, comfort, companionship and more due to Gail Chappel’s death.
“Wrongful death, in whatever context, is always a deeply emotional issue,” Powers said. “However, it doesn’t change the fact that Dr. Ketcham’s care was appropriate and proper. Doctors cannot guarantee results. Particularly when the patients they’re treating have extensive preexisting histories.”