Case #1066: Bowel Perforation
In October, the 36-year old Plaintiff consulted with the Defendant Surgeon for abdominal pain. After examination, the Defendant advised the Plaintiff to undergo an exploratory laparoscopy for the purpose of lysis of adhesions.
The Plaintiff alleged that, in view of the Plaintiff’s prior history of earlier surgical procedures resulting in the very scar tissue for which he was operating, the Defendant’s determination to use a laparoscope violated the standards of care. On November 7, the Plaintiff was taken to a procedure room by the Defendant Physician, who perforated the bowel, and further failed to recognize the perforation. Postoperatively, the Plaintiff continued to complain of severe abdominal pain, weakness and dizziness. By post-operative day 2, the Plaintiff had a distended abdomen and by post-operative day 3, the Plaintiff’s white blood count had significantly risen from 10,000 to 13,000 with a left shift, indicating a septic process. On November 10, a rapid response team was summoned. At that time, the Plaintiff was hypotensive, tachycardic, short of breath, with oxygen saturations of 88% all indicating symptoms of septic shock, resulting in admission to the ICU. Notwithstanding her ongoing and severe deterioration, no action was taken to intervene from the date of surgery on November 7, until three days thereafter when frank stool began to leak from the area of her umbilicus.
When the Plaintiff was finally returned to the operating room for exploration of the abdomen, several liters of small bowel contents were found throughout her entire abdominal cavity and a 2 centimeter frank hole in her bowel which was leaking. The Plaintiff went to the ICU in critical condition and remained confined at the Defendant Hospital approximately five weeks, where time she required 7 additional surgical procedures. The Plaintiff was transferred to the Shock Trauma Unit of a nearby hospital where she received intensive care for an additional five weeks. She was ultimately transferred to a chronic care facility for further convalescence and rehabilitation.
The Plaintiff alleged that the Defendant surgeon negligently performed a laparoscopic rather than open lysis of abdominal adhesions, negligently perforated the bowel, negligently failed to recognize the injury intraoperatively, and negligently failed to timely recognize and repair the bowel leak. These deviations in the standard of care led to massive peritonitis, multiple subsequent surgeries, multi-system organ failure and permanent debilitation.