Sommers Schwartz attorneys Judith A. Susskind and Dina M. Zalewski negotiated a confidential $415,000 medical malpractice settlement for the estate of a 59-year-old male who died of sepsis after the defendant surgeon perforated his colon during a laparoscopic splenectomy.
During the procedure, the surgeon perforated the man’s large intestine. He attempted to repair the hole with staples and sutures. The patient had a low hemoglobin, a high white blood cell count, abdominal pain, and tachycardia after the surgery. He was discharged from the hospital a few days after the procedure.
Complying with the discharge instructions, the patient saw his primary care doctor two days after leaving the hospital for a surgical follow-up. He was complaining of “fever.” The doctor found a high white blood cell count.
Four days later, the patient went to the emergency room complaining of blood in his stool, dizziness, nausea, abdominal pain, and shortness of breath. He was admitted to the hospital, and the surgeon who performed the splenectomy was assigned as his attending doctor.
Despite signs and symptoms of a surgical abdomen, the defendant did not take him back to the Operating Room. Instead, he ordered serial drainage procedures. Notwithstanding the thickness, brown color, and fecal odor of the discharge, the defendant continued to prescribe drainage to treat the problem, when the situation called for surgery to repair a hole in the large intestine. Because of the lack of surgical intervention, the patient’s condition continued to deteriorate. He showed signs and symptoms of worsening and progressive sepsis due to the persistent leakage from the hole in his bowel.
Due to feces leaking out, the patient went into septic shock and suffered multi-organ failure, including respiratory failure, acute kidney failure, and heart failure. He suffered brain damage, and the doctors told his wife he was brain dead. After consulting her family and pastor, the patient’s wife had the machines keeping her husband alive turned off, and he passed. The death certificate listed the cause of death as sepsis, which had been present for “weeks.”
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