Two Doctors Caught in Malpractice Case


Jurors are now beginning to hear the opening arguments in a Stearns County civil malpractice lawsuit that accuses two Central Minnesota doctors of causing the death of a former Sartell police officer.

According to records filed with the court, Joseph Schmitz died in March of 2014 after developing a hemorrhage in his neck while undergoing surgery to repair a herniated disc. Complications arising as the result of the hemorrhage caused Schmitz’ throat to swell, thus closing his airway and leading to cardiac arrest along with severe brain injury from a lack of oxygen.

Schmitz was placed on life support before his next of kin made the decision to end his care several days later. Schmitz was 44 years old at the time of his death.

Schmitz is survived by his wife, Stacy. Stacy Schmitz is now suing Dr. Gregory Sherr, who performed the discectomy, as well as Dr. Robert Gardner, who treated Schmitz at the Paynesville hospital when Schmitz returned to the emergency room with the hemorrhage a day after the surgery.

Both physicians claim that they gave the correct treatment to Schmitz and that it was his decision to leave the hospital that ultimately led to his death.

A disc fusion was performed on Schmitz by Dr. Sherr on March 20, 2014. Schmitz said shortly after his discharge on the following day he felt something “pop” in his neck while he was trying to take a nap. A lump on the side of his neck began growing from the resulting hemorrhage.

Schmitz’ experienced shortness of breath and went to the hospital in Paynesville, the town where he lived Gardner ordered an ultrasound and also called Sherr to inform him of the patient’s developing condition.

Dr. Gardner advised that Schmitz be either be transported by air or a ground ambulance to St. Cloud Hospital to be seen by Sherr. Schmitz and his wife decided that they would drive to St. Cloud Hospital instead.

During the trip, Schmitz throat was swelling and his condition worsening. The Schmitzes called 911 just 10 minutes after leaving Paynesville hospital.

An ambulance was dispatched to their location and Schmitz was able to walk on his own to the vehicle. On the trip to hospital, Schmitz was unable to breathe and went into cardiac arrest. In spite of emergency crews on board the ambulance attempting to insert a breathing tube for Schmitz, the deprivation of oxygen to his brain was great enough to cause him brain injury. , but Schmitz had lost enough oxygen flow to his brain that he suffered a severe brain injury that resulted in his death.

Even when doctors do their best to keep their patients informed and give the best possible care to them, things can go wrong. When something like this happens, that’s the time when you need an attorney who specializes in malpractice and personal injury law.

If you or a loved one has suffered as the result of medical malpractice, contact the offices of Bottar Law, PLLC immediately. We will meet with you to discuss your claim and determine if you have a case. We can then begin your malpractice lawsuit in order to insure that you and your loved ones receive the compensation you deserve.

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