Mother sues Basalt doctor for son’s wrongful death
A Basalt orthopedic surgeon is being sued for his alleged negligence that led to the death of a Carbondale man in 2012.
A five-page complaint, filed Wednesday in Pitkin County District Court, accuses Dr. Thomas Moore of failing to recognize a patient’s fatal medical conditions before he died abruptly. The patient, Hans Ayers, died Dec. 17, 2012, at Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs. He was 48.
Denver attorney David Dansky filed the lawsuit on behalf of Ayers’ mother, Ursula, of Carbondale.
According to the lawsuit, on Nov. 6, 2012, at Grand River Medical Center in Rifle, Moore surgically repaired a ruptured tendon in Hans Ayers’ left knee, which was the result of a work accident.
Moore put Ayers’ left leg into a long-leg splint, and on Nov. 20, 2012, the physician placed the leg into a full-leg cylinder cast, telling him to return in four weeks for a re-evaluation, the suit says. At Ayers’ return visit on Dec. 17, 2012, Moore told him to remove the cast at home and return in two days for a knee brace, the suit says.
But on Dec. 18, the lawsuit claims, Ayers woke up with shortness in breath and was transported by ambulance to Valley View Hospital. At 7:22 that morning, he was pronounced dead.
Using clinical terms to describe the nature of the death, the suit claims that a postmortem examination performed on Ayers, by forensic pathologist Dr. Robert Kurtzman, revealed multiple medical problems with Ayers’ left leg. Kurtzman also determined that Ayers died of deep venous thrombosis, which, in layman’s terms, was a blood clot in the deep veins of Ayers’ left leg. The clot resulted in bilateral pulmonary emboli, which essentially is a blockage to the lungs that can cause respiratory failure.
“Reasonably careful orthopedic surgeons know that DVT (deep venous thrombosis) is a potential complication of orthopedic surgery on the legs,” said the suit, which added that “On December 17, 2012, a reasonably careful orthopedic surgeon would not have permitted Mr. Ayers to remove his own cast at home.”
Ayers, according to his profiles on social-media websites, had worked as a heavy equipment operator for the Pitkin County Roads and Bridges Department. It’s unclear from the lawsuit, however, if his injuries came while under the county’s employ.
The suit does not specify how much the plaintiff is seeking in monetary damages.
Dansky and Ursula Ayers could not be reached for immediate comment on Thursday. A call to Moore’s office was referred to his attorney, who also did not immediately return a telephone message.
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A meeting with state public health officials Monday afternoon revealed new metrics for smaller population counties and good news for Pitkin County.