$21.2M Verdict Exposing KY Malpractice Monopoly
When a group of Kentucky cardiologists conspired to perform hundreds of unnecessary heart surgeries on patients for the purpose of boosting profits, attorney Hans Poppe of the Poppe Law Firm needed to prove that it was fueled by a ring of corruption that incentivised malpractice on a massive scale.
Representing more than 170 people who underwent similar surgeries, Poppe asked High Impact to build him an arsenal of exhibits that could be applied and easily modified for each case. His most recent case, working with Tom Rhodes of the Tom Rhodes Law Firm, concluded with a $21.2M jury verdict for a patient who was implanted with an unnecessary pacemaker.
Our visual objectives:
- Show how doctors deliberately misinterpreted cardiac evaluations, and purposely misdiagnosed patients.
- Demonstrate the level of dangerous invasiveness involved in these procedures the patients did not need.
- Simplify a complex web of financial relationships that incentivised these dangerous, invasive, and unnecessary surgeries on a massive scale.
- Build these exhibits in a way that could be applied and easily modified for more than 170 cases.
We equipped Poppe with an arsenal of medical animations, information graphics, Color Diagnostics, and digital interactive exhibits. We also built a custom 3D interactive heart on a touchscreen that was so realistic, two defendant cardiologists were awed into admitting that the exhibit was "fair and accurate" in front of the judge - as their attorneys were in the process of objecting against its admissibility (See Final Exhibit Below).
As Poppe continues representing the victims of unnecessary surgeries and fraud, he's using the following exhibits to expose a monopoly of medical malpractice in Kentucky.
Showing How Doctors Maliciously Misdiagnosed
The first animation demonstrates a cardiac catheterization: a procedure doctors used to diagnose their patients' heart conditions.
Showing jurors this complicated process allowed them to see how doctors evaluated their patients, and helped them recognize the radiographic films that were acquired from these evaluations. In this particular case, the animation helped reinforce the colorized angiogram (below) that showed absolutely no evidence that a patient needed a stent procedure.
The animation reinforced radiographic evidence, and helped jurors understand how cardiologists purposely misrepresented data and misdiagnosed patients.
Natalie Doolittle, Director of Medical Animation, High Impact
Animating Unnecessary Surgeries
Once Poppe had established the level of egregiousness with which cardiac evaluations were misinterpreted, the next three animations show some of the dangerous procedures that were so unnecessary, they actually damaged some of the patients' cardiovascular systems for life.
This first animation demonstrates the step-by-step procedure for a pacemaker implant a patient did not need. It accurately shows the experience a patient lived through as an unnecessary foreign object was placed in his heart, and most recently helped Poppe and Rhodes secure the $21.2M verdict mentioned earlier.
This second animation walks jurors through an angioplasty, and demonstrates how stents were unnecessarily placed in a patient's arteries, where they could never be removed. One patient who underwent multiple angioplasties would live with multiple foreign objects in his heart for the rest of his life. Animation helps emphasize that reality.
This third animation shows the procedure for a double bypass surgery. This unnecessary surgery was so dangerous, the heart was literally stopped at one point and supported by a machine. Seeing the level of invasiveness as tubes are attached to arteries and veins helps emphasize the level of surgical damage done to this heart, for the sole purpose of profit.
Illustrating a Malpractice Monopoly
Next came the most complicated aspect of Poppe's case: walking jurors through the incredibly complex web of financial relationships that ultimately incentivised medical malpractice. To give you a sense of how complex this network of corruption was to explain, below is what we started with.
This case revolved around an overwhelming amount of information, and an extensive cast of characters and corporate entities that were essential to connecting liability. Our task was to take these overwhelmingly impersonal facts and simplify them in a way that was understandable and recognizable for a jury.
Stephen Sheets, Director of Interactive Design, High Impact
We compiled years of healthcare fraud into this interactive exhibit that allowed Poppe to guide jurors through every path of corruption, pull up linear timelines, dive in and out of compelling details, and focus their attention on the points that mattered to his case.
A non-linear interactive format allowed the presenter to browse the organizational chart, isolating the stories within the story. Some of the smaller stories were most effectively told in a timeline format, with events going back roughly 20 years. Others were presented as branching trees showing a series of one-to-many relationships. With an interactive exhibit, we don’t sacrifice the details or lose sight of the bigger picture.
David Dorris, Interactive Designer, High Impact
Presenting The 3D Interactive Heart
The final exhibit gave Poppe complete control over a 3D interactive human heart in photorealistic detail.
On a giant touchscreen, Poppe could move the heart in all directions, toggle anatomical labels on and off, animate the flow of blood through the arteries and veins, and literally open the heart up to show its internal anatomy. The exhibit could be used for any of Poppe's heart cases, but one feature was built specifically for showing malpractice with stent procedures. It allowed Poppe to change the stenosis in blood vessels, and show a side-by-side comparison of blood vessels at different stenosis percentages. It was so accurate, it awed the cardiologists on the defense into accidentally admitting it into evidence themselves.
When we rolled the giant touchscreen with the 3D interactive heart into the courtroom, the defense lawyers immediately began objecting. As we argued the issue before the judge, two of the defendant cardiologists became mesmerized with the exhibit. So I walked the defendant cardiologists through the presentation and let them play with it, and then casually asked if they considered it a 'fair and accurate' representation. In front of the judge they both admitted it was, and accidentally sabotaged their lawyer’s own objections.
Hans Poppe, Esq., The Poppe Law Firm