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Case# 4005: Failure To Diagnose Sepsis Results In Patients Ongoing Need For Dialysis


The Plaintiff presented to a hospital emergency room complaining of rectal bleeding. Defendant 1 removed part of the Plaintiff’s colon and performed an anastomosis. Immediately afterward, the Plaintiff developed a fever, tachycardia, increased white blood cell count, increasing creatinine, and other signs and symptoms of a leaky bowel. Blood cultures were drawn and a Gastrografin enema was obtained. That enema did not reveal the presence of a leak. Defendant 1 signed out for the weekend without taking the patient back to surgery, and Defendant 2 provided weekend coverage. During that time, the Plaintiff’s white blood cell count became abnormally low, his creatinine level continued to rise, he was in acute renal failure, and the blood cultures revealed the presence of gram negative rods, which is consistent with bacteria from the bowel. Nonetheless, Defendant 2 did not take the Plaintiff to surgery. When Defendant 1 resumed care of the Plaintiff on Monday, the Plaintiff became sicker. The Plaintiff was eventually taken back to surgery, where a leak in the anastomotic line was identified. The Plaintiff underwent further resection of his bowel and received an ileostomy. As a result of the sepsis, which was caused by the leak in the bowel, the Plaintiff’s kidneys stopped functioning and he was started on dialysis. The Plaintiff remained hospitalized for several months, including five months in a rehabilitation facility. The Plaintiff still has an ileostomy, still receives dialysis and is unable to work.

The case was arbitrated, which resulted in an award in the amount of $2,250,000.00.

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