Case Summary

Medical Malpractice

Following surgery to remove a perforated gangrenous appendix, patient who also suffered from cirrhosis was followed by only one post-operative appointment reporting abdominal pain, no appetite, bloating, abdominal distention, fatigue, night sweats, nasal drainage, wheezing and headache. Despite these symptoms and the fact that examination notes during his hospitalization for the appendectomy indicated that he had post-operative abdominal distention and tenderness, no follow up evaluations were recommended, and he was discharged from care. Five days later he was brought to the emergency room in the morning because he was suffering from abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, chills, and had not been able to eat, and was diagnosed as being septic. Despite a consulting gastroenterologist concluding that the abdominal distention was secondary to the surgery, the general surgeon insisted that the patient’s complications were related to his cirrhosis and not his appendectomy. Later that evening the patient’s family was advised that his condition was terminal, and that any exploratory procedure would constitute heroic measures in the patient’s now severely weakened state. No explanation was ever given as to why exploratory surgery was not performed earlier. A Medical Malpractice lawsuit was filed against the Hospital and Doctors alleging that signs of serious complications were ignored during the one, and only, post-operative appointment and that the hospital physicians refused to perform exploratory surgery to determine whether the patient’s condition was the result of a nicked bowel despite clear sign that this was the cause of his symptoms. During discovery in the case the attorneys at Schemery Zicolello uncovered that although the physicians had persuaded the widow not to have an autopsy, when the coroner was contacted, he was orally advised by the nursing staff that the cause of death was complications due to a nicked bowel. This cause was not listed on the death certificate. The case settled prior to trial and the Hospital required the settlement amount be confidential.