Alton doctors on trial in Madison County not negligent, jury rules

Steve Gonzalez May 22, 2008, 5:56am

Jeffrey Glass

An eight-day medical malpractice case in Madison County has ended with a defense verdict in favor of two Alton doctors.

After deliberating a little less than two hours, a jury of five men and seven women found that Aaron Wesp, M.D. and Robert Lutan, M.D did not deviate from the standard of care by prescribing antiarhythmic heart medicine to Richard Mathus.

Represented by Tom Falb and Michael Glisson of Alton, Ruth Mathus filed the suit against the doctors on Feb. 2, 2005. Falb argued Richard had been prescribed the drug amiodarone in September 2002 for a heart condition and that Richard died from side effects associated with the drug on Nov. 2, 2003.

Amiodarone affects the rhythm of heartbeats and is used to help keep the heart beating normally in people with life-threatening heart rhythm disorders of the ventricles.

Falb had argued Wesp and Lutan committed professional negligence by failing to give proper informed consent to Richard regarding alternatives and dangers of the drug, failed to advise his family regarding the testing and monitoring required with the drug, failed to timely discover the ill effects of the drug and failed to treat the effects of drug including, stopping its use.

He also had argued Lutan failed to know that amiodarone should not have been used in Richard's case of atrial flutter, failed to determine whether the atrial flutter was less than or more than 48 hours old, failed to rule out blood clots in the heart and improperly kept him on the medication after being released from the hospital.

Ruth Mathus testified that prior to his death, Richard experienced pain and suffering, loss of a normal life and medical expenses.

Wesp and Lutan had argued that Richard's pre-existing heart conditions caused his death and not side effects from the amiodarone.

Wesp was represented by Jeffrey Glass of Belleville.

Lutan was represented by James Neville of Belleville.

The case was actually assigned to Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron, but Associate Judge Tom Chapman presided over the trial portion of the case.

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