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ARTICLE ID 160212
$________ - SURGERY MALPRACTICE - FAILURE TO DETECT BOWEL LACERATION DURING INCISIONAL HERNIA REPAIR - NEGLIGENT POST-OPERATIVE CARE - PERITONITIS - SEPSIS - WRONGFUL DEATH
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania
The estate of the 74-year-old female plaintiff contended
that the defendant general surgeon negligently failed to detect a
bowel laceration during surgery to repair an incisional hernia.
The plaintiff also alleged that employees of the defendant
hospital deviated from the required standard of care in failing
to appreciate the decedents post-operative signs and symptoms of
bowel leakage, leading to her ultimate death from sepsis. The
defendant doctor argued that he did not detect bowel leakage at
the time of surgery and that the cause of the plaintiffs
subsequent symptoms was unclear. The defendants maintained that
the bowel leakage was diagnosed as soon as possible. Several
other physicians involved in the plaintiffs care were
voluntarily dismissed from the case prior to trial.
The decedent was admitted to the defendant hospital for elective
surgery to repair an incisional hernia. The laparoscopic repair
surgery was performed by the defendant general surgeon on April
29, ________. The plaintiffs surgical expert testified that the
defendant was negligent in failing to perform a post-operative
re-examination of the plaintiffs bowel at the end of the surgery
to ensure that there were no leaks. Such an examination would
have revealed that a bowel laceration had occurred during the
surgery, according to the plaintiff.
The defendant surgeon was not working at the hospital over the
weekend following the decedents surgery. The plaintiff claimed
that the decedent exhibited several signs and symptoms of bowel
leakage, which were not appreciated by the hospital physicians in
charge of her care and that these physicians administered pain
management only. In addition, the plaintiffs expert opined that
the plaintiffs diagnostic tests, including a so-called "shift to
the left", indicated a high white blood count and developing
infection which was not appreciated by the hospital physicians.
Four days post-operative, on May 4, ________, the decedent was being
moved for a repeat CAT scan, when the plaintiff contended that
fecal contents spilled out of her surgical wound. The plaintiff
was diagnosed with two perforations or enterotomies in the bowel
which the plaintiff claimed was caused by a bowel laceration
during the surgery. The decedent underwent additional surgery to
repair the bowel and the wound remained unclosed. Peritonitis and
overwhelming sepsis resulted in her death eight months post-
The defendant surgeon testified that he checked for bowel leakage
during the procedure and he did not believe that it was necessary
to check again at the end of the procedure because if a leak were
present, he would have seen it. The defense contended that the
decedents medical presentation was complicated and that the
physicians who were treating her acted reasonably in considering
differential diagnosis, including a hematoma. The defense argued
that there was not sufficient evidence to diagnose a bowel injury
during the time in question.
After a five day trial, the jury found for the plaintiff in the
amount of $________. The award included $________ for the
wrongful death claim and $________ for the survival claim. The
addition of delay damages increased the plaintiffs judgment to
$________. Post-trial motions are pending.
5 ways to win with JVRA
JVRA gives you jurisdiction-specific, year-round insight into the strategies, arguments and tactics that win. Successful attorneys come to the table prepared and use JVRA to:
- Determine if a case is winnable and recovery amounts.
- Determine reasonable demand for a case early on.
- Support a settlement demand by establishing precedent.
- Research trial strategies, tactics and arguments.
- Defeat or support post-trial motions through past case histories.
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