Surgery and Procedure Case Studies

55 year old female dies from Perforation following ERCP

A 55 year old woman went in for a routine ERCP to determine the cause of her stomach problems.  During the procedure, the gastroenterologist perforated the duodenum.  The question as to whether the perforation was a retroperitoneal contained perforation or a free perforation became a major issue.  An x-ray following the procedure suggested air in the peritoneum.  The gastroenterologist chose to treat the patient conservatively overnight.  During the night, the patient suffered increasing pain and vomited coffee ground emisis.  The nurses did not notify the doctor, but rather kept administering doses of dilaudid.  By morning, the patient arrested.  She was taken to emergency surgery.  When opened up, her insides were filled with gangrene.  After many additional surgeries, the patient expired from the necrosis and infection.  The Standard of Care question centered on the choice to medically manage the patient  instead of an immediate surgical repair of the known perforation.  Case settled for approximately $800,000. (Louisiana Cap of $500,000)

Woman Paralyzed By Spinal Hematoma From Administration of Lovenox Following Back Surgery

A 56 year old woman sustained permanent below the waist paralysis as a result of a delay in diagnosing a spinal hematoma following a routine back surgery.  Prior to the surgery, the woman had been on a therapeutic dose of the drug Lovenox for her congestive heart failure.  Although the treating Neurosurgeon stopped the meds just before surgery, he gave an order to “resume pre op meds” following the surgery.  Thus, her Lovenox was resumed in therapeutic doses a day after surgery.  She immediately developed signs of extremity weakness, but the physician delayed more than 12 hours before ordering a CT scan which diagnosed the hematoma.  By then the damage was permanent.  She is wheel chair bound for the remainder of her life. Case Settled for $1.2 million (Louisiana Cap of $500,000)

35 year old female dies from untreated sepsis

A mother of two with stomach ulcers was admitted to the hospital for a major procedure, performed solo by a general surgeon, to re-route the patient’s stomach in order to “cure” her ulcers.  Almost immediately after the surgery she began showing signs and symptoms of infection, though her doctor described her as “convalescing”.  Her condition progressed to full-blown sepsis, which was undiagnosed and untreated.  She died in the early morning hours, in the hospital, and the physician refused to come to her side.  Case was tried and settled with a huge verdict reduced to the Louisiana cap of $500,000 plus interest and damages.

Paraplegia from anesthesia during MRI

A woman in her mid-twenties with a recurring cervical abscess went untreated and undiagnosed after having entered a major emergency room.  More than 24 hours passed between the time she entered the facility until she was seen and examined by a neurosurgeon.  In the interim, she could not be sedated for an MRI because of her pain.  Without her consent, the patient was placed under general anesthesia and the test was completed.  At shift change, the patient was discovered in the machine, and she remains a thoracic quad today.  She received the defendant’s full $500,000 plus all future medical costs and expenses.

Wrong-Site neck surgery

A man in his mid-thirties by all physician accounts needed neck surgery.  At the time of the operation, his surgeon, using fluoroscopy, mis-identified the targeted cervical level and fused an incorrect vertebrae.  The error was brought to the surgeon’s attention by a radiologist after the patient was already in the recovery room, and the patient required a second fusion.  The second surgery was more complicated and will likely result in work impairment, an increased disability rating, and early arthritic changes.  Settled for $200,000.

Lack of Monitoring From Operating Room to Intensive Care Unit Leaves Patient in Vegetative State

Patient was transported from the Operating Room, a monitored unit in the hospital to the Intensive Care Unit, also a monitored unit in the hospital  without being placed on a monitor during her transportation.  The transporting physician and nurse did not notice that the patient stopped breathing for more than 28 minutes.  The patient was left in a permanent vegetative state and incurred more than $2,000,000 in medical expenses before she prematurely expired.