The family of a 67-year-old Louisiana woman who died following elective spine surgery has filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital where the surgery was performed, claiming that the medical staff negligently failed to diagnose and treat post-surgical complications that led to the woman’s unnecessary death.
The malpractice claim alleges that the woman developed an abdominal infection due to her bowel being negligently perforated during her spinal surgery and that the perforation was not properly and timely diagnosed and was left untreated for several days while she was in the hospital, which resulted in her death.
The Underlying Facts
The woman had elective surgery on her spine on August 8, 2008. While in the hospital’s post-anesthesia care unit after her surgery, the woman complained that she had a burning pain in her abdomen and that she had indigestion and nausea. She had a CT scan the following day that was interpreted by a radiology resident as showing “small bubbles of air within the pelvis [that] are likely post-operative in nature.” The radiology resident claims that he advised the neurosurgery resident of the possibility of a bowel perforation; the neurosurgery resident claims he never received information regarding the possibility of a bowel perforation and that he specifically inquired if there was a bowel perforation and was advised that there was none.
A request for the hospital’s general surgery department to perform exploratory surgery two days later could not be accomplished because by that time the woman’s medical condition had deteriorated and she was too unstable for surgery. The woman died early the next morning.
The medical malpractice plaintiffs allege that the elective spine surgery was negligently performed, causing the woman’s bowel to be perforated; that the perforation was not timely and appropriately diagnosed, which led to her developing sepsis that caused her death; and, that had the perforated bowel been properly diagnosed and surgery performed on August 9, 2008, when she was strong enough to undergo exploratory surgery, the woman would not have died as a result of her abdominal infection.
The Louisiana medical malpractice lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages for the woman’s pain and suffering, the medical costs of her care, the funeral expenses, and compensation for the surviving children’s mental anguish, emotional distress, and for the loss of their mother’s love and affection.
The malpractice case has been assigned to a judge but no trial date has been set.
Complications during or following surgery, whether the surgery is elective or not, may be known risks of the surgery. Sometimes complications occur that are not due to medical negligence; other times, known possible complications from surgery are preventable if the medical staff provide the level of care that is expected of them under the circumstances. For instance, infection is a known complication of surgery that may occur even if reasonable precautions are undertaken; however, if someone failed to properly sterilize the surgical instruments used in the surgery, an infection due to such lapse would likely be considered to be medical negligence.
Often it takes a medical malpractice lawyer to investigate the cause of bad surgical outcomes to determine if medical malpractice was the cause of the unexpected injuries and harms.
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