A Philadelphia County medical malpractice jury returned a verdict in favor of a 27-year-old man in the amount of $3.34 million after determining that a hospital and a physician were medically negligent in their failure to timely diagnose the man’s perforated bowel following surgery to address his groin pain.
The medical malpractice plaintiff was ready to begin his professional soccer career in Colombia when he consulted with the defendant physician regarding his left-sided groin pain. The physician, who had developed a surgical procedure to address groin pain, convinced the man to undergo the surgical procedure after the physician promised him that he would fully heal and be ready to play soccer within three weeks.
The man was discharged from the hospital during the evening on the same day that he had the surgery. Shortly after he was discharged, he experienced severe abdominal pain and called his physician several times. The man went to the emergency room the next afternoon and was evaluated by the physician’s chief resident.
Despite obvious signs of a perforated bowel, a CT scan with oral barium contrast was ordered several hours after the man’s arrival at the hospital. The CT scan not only showed a perforated bowel but also the spread of the barium contrast and intestinal contents throughout the man’s abdominal cavity. The barium in the man’s abdomen led to the development of severe barium peritonitis (it is not consistent with the standard of care to use barium if a perforated bowel is suspected).
The man was hospitalized for one month during which he had to undergo multiple surgeries that included placing drains to treat the recurring infections. The Philadelphia County medical malpractice jury returned its verdict in the man’s favor in the amount of $3.34 million after he had rejected a $1.5 million settlement offer during trial.
Barium Contrast Should Not Be Used For Patients With Suspected Bowel Perforation
A highly-respected medical source states, “The main contraindication to x-ray contrast studies is suspected perforation, because free barium is highly irritating to the mediastinum and peritoneum; water-soluble contrast is less irritating and may be used if perforation is possible.” Source
A medical source from Australia warns, “Barium is contra-indicated if there is a known or suspected perforation. In such cases, either a water-soluble iodinated contrast such as Gastrograffin, or a non-ionic agent is used.” Source
The American College of Radiology (ACR) states in its ACR Manual on Contrast Media Version 9, 2013, “Contradindications to administration of barium: There are no absolute contraindications for the use of barium compounds, although, for reasons already mentioned, it is generally recommended that barium not be administered to individuals who are suspected or known to have bowel perforations …” (Page 64).
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