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Doctor Failed To Timely Diagnose And Treat Bowel Perforation

M.D. was admitted to the hospital for surgery to repair three hernias in her colon. Post-surgery, she experienced severe abdominal pain, distention, and nausea. Nurses called the treating physician, but he did not respond to pages, so a resident doctor was called in to check on M.D.

The next day, M.D. continued to experience severe abdominal pain and nausea. Her family expressed their concerns about her extreme pain to her treating physician at the time, who explained to the family that M.D. would likely be placed into the ICU for observation. Conversely, the attending physician told the family that she would be fine and did not need to be in the ICU. The treating physician was again paged by the nurses, and he again did not respond.

M.D.’s symptoms worsened the following day. The treating physician agreed to take her back into surgery, where he found a hole in her colon. He expressed to the family that a mistake was made during the first surgery resulting in a punctured colon, and that she would be recovering in the CICU. M.D. was in critical condition and was placed on a ventilator after her second surgery.

Over the next two days, doctors attempted to wean M.D. off of the ventilator, but they were unsuccessful. She was gasping for air and experienced difficulty breathing. The family requested a pulmonologist to come in for a consultation of M.D.’s condition.

The next day, the treating physician told the family that M.D. had contracted an infection that resulted from the hole in her colon, and he diagnosed her with septicemia, a bacterial blood infection.

Over the next several days, M.D. developed low blood pressure, and her kidneys began to fail, so she was started on dialysis every other day. The treating physician made an abdominal incision to drain her abdomen, and she was taken back into surgery because the incision sutures were not holding.

Two weeks after her first surgery, M.D. was now in critical condition with body swelling and two stage 3 sacral decubitus ulcers. The family was told that M.D. had a MRSA infection and infectious disease protocol was implemented in the vicinity around her hospital room; the family was instructed to wear protective gowns and gloves during visits.

Over a month after her first surgery, M.D. developed pneumonia and her liver began to fail, in addition to her kidney failure. The family observed that she was severely jaundiced, and a GI specialist ordered a liver scan.

Over the next three weeks, M.D.’s health continued to decline as she slowly entered into multi-system organ failure. Eventually, she suffered a heart attack and passed away.

At trial, a jury awarded M.D.’s family a settlement of $1.43 million. While no amount of money could bring M.D. back to her family or truly compensate them for their monumental loss, the family could take some solace in knowing that they had their day in court, told their story to a jury of their peers, and held the responsible parties accountable for what they had done to M.D.