Case #1067: Bowel Resection
On June 10, the Plaintiff’s Decedent presented to the Defendant Hospital with a five-day history of periumbilical pain and nausea. In the emergency department, a CT scan was ordered which revealed a thickening of the mesentery. Accordingly, the Defendant was engaged as the Decedent’s general surgeon. It is alleged that the Defendant took the Plaintiff’s Decedent to surgery on June 11, for an exploratory laparotomy. At that time, a small bowel volvulus was visualized with approximately 15 centimeters of bowel being involved and described as dark purple in color. However, rather than performing a small bowel resection as required by the standards of care, the Defendant simply untwisted the bowel, and left it intact. He did this notwithstanding the fact that the bowel had been dark purple in color with the mesentery being swollen and hemorrhagic. As indicated, it is alleged that the standards of care required a small bowel resection under these circumstances. Had the Defendant acted in accordance with the standards of care and performed a simple small bowel resection, all of the injuries, damages and the ultimate death of the Plaintiff’s Decedent would have been avoided.
Predictably, by June 12, the Decedent’s abdomen was significantly distended with minimal bowel sounds. The following day, his condition progressed with the distention becoming even more significant — with no bowel movements since surgery. On June 14, the abdominal distention continued with the Decedent complaining of passing only liquid per rectum, with green emesis and hypoactive bowel sounds. On June 15, a nasogastric tube which had been placed was draining frank red blood with the Decedent’s abdomen being described as “very distended and painful.” Finally, the Defendant ordered a CT scan which should, in conformity with the standards of care, have been ordered significantly earlier. The CT scan demonstrated mesenteric vein thrombosis with the results being available at approximately 3:30 p.m. on June 15. However, contrary to the standards of care, the Defendant continued in his failure to intervene.
By 7:30 p.m. on June 15, the Plaintiff’s Decedent was found desaturating to 76% on four liters of oxygen. Further, he was pale, tachypneic and diaphoretic, and had already suffered 88cc’s of blood loss through the nasogastric tube. Still, the Defendant negligently failed to do anything in terms of surgical and/or meaningful intervention. The Plaintiff’s Decedent was simply transferred to the Intensive Care Unit.
By 7:15 a.m. on June 16, the Decedent’s pain was rated eight out of ten. His breath sounds were diminished, and his abdomen remained hugely distended. Still, the Defendant negligently failed to intervene surgically or otherwise.
Finally, on June 16, at approximately 11:00 p.m., the Defendant transferred his patient to another institution. After arriving at the other hospital, an emergency laparotomy was completed with several feet of bowel removed. The wound was packed open. Additionally, several additional debridements were conducted. However, notwithstanding heroic and ongoing efforts on the part of the surgical staff — the Plaintiff’s Decedent died a painful and untimely death on July 4. His death was caused by the multi-organ system failure resulting through the ongoing negligence of the Defendant and others at the Defendant Hospital.
It is asserted that the Plaintiff’s Decedent suffered unending physical pain, emotional anguish as well as fear and anxiety over his ongoing condition — which ultimately culminated in his death as described hereinabove. Additionally, his estate incurred hospital, surgical, pharmacological, nursing and other losses and expenses, including funeral and burial expenses for which claim is made.
It is asserted that had the Defendant conformed with the applicable standards of care and performed a simple bowel resection at the time the volvulus was diagnosed, the Plaintiff’s Decedent would have made an uneventful recovery and returned home to his family and to his work. However, due to the ongoing negligence of the Defendant no small bowel resection was performed, no intervention was provided as required by the standards of care, and the Plaintiff’s Decedent was simply left to languish until any intervention on the part of others proved to be too little and too late.