The Dempsey Kingsland Osteen law firm obtained an $850,000 settlement for a client in a case involving complications from gall bladder surgery.
John Doe was a vigorous retired 72-year-old when he began experiencing stomach discomfort and pain after meals. His regular doctor referred him to Defendant Doctor, a general surgeon.
Defendant Doctor ordered a CT scan, which showed that Mr. Doe had gall stones and needed surgery.
The surgery was expected to be routine, and Mr. Doe was scheduled to be released from the hospital in less than 24 hours.
However, during the surgery, which lasted two hours, Defendant Doctor encountered “massive adhesions.”
(Adhesions are internal scar tissue that connects organs and tissues not normally connected.)
The presence of these adhesions made the surgery more challenging, and required a greater-than-normal use of an electrocautery and scissors. This in turn increased the risk of injury to the patient’s bowel.
Thirteen hours after the surgery, it became apparent that Mr. Doe was not recovering as expected. A nurse telephoned Defendant Doctor to tell him that Mr. Doe was in severe pain. A nurse later notified the doctor that Mr. Doe’s abdomen was distended.
Mr. Doe’s condition declined to the extent that a nurse summoned the hospital’s Rapid Assessment Team. Many of Mr. Doe’s vital signs were abnormal:
- Temperature: 102.9 (normal is 98.6)
- Heart rate: 130 (normal range 60 to 100)
- Respiration rate: 42 (normal range: 12 to 20)
- O2 saturation: 90 (normal range 97% to 99%)
- Blood pressure 210/90 (normal is 120/80 or below)
A nurse called Defendant Doctor to notify him of these results.
Later lab tests showed that Mr. Doe’s lactate level was at a critical value of 7.40. (The normal range for lactate is .5 to 2.0.) This showed that his body was under severe stress. Such results are often a common marker of sepsis.
(Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening complication of an infection.)
The nurses were concerned enough about Mr. Doe’s condition that they called Defendant Doctor five times during the early-morning hours.
Despite his patient’s alarming symptoms, Defendant Doctor remained at home and chose to manage Mr. Doe’s care over the phone. He did not arrive at his patient’s bedside until after 8 AM.
Forty-five hours after the initial gallbladder surgery, Defendant Doctor performed exploratory surgery on Mr. Doe and found that he had a bowel perforation.
As a result of his surgical complications, Mr. Doe endured five months of hospitalized care. He experienced gangrene in six of his fingers, in all of his toes, and in parts of his feet. Eventually, five his fingers were partially amputated. All of his toes and parts of his feet were also amputated.
Mr. Doe also developed severe abdominal infections which required an ileostomy.
(An ileostomy diverts the small intestine through an opening in the abdomen, in order to remove waste from the body when the colon and/or rectum are not working properly.)
Mr. Doe also suffered moderate cognitive dysfunction due to septic shock and his stay in an intensive care unit.
Mediation and Settlement
Dempsey Kingsland Osteen retained as an expert witness a surgeon who regularly performs laparoscopic gallbladder surgery. He testified at deposition that Defendant Doctor’s management of Mr. Doe’s condition clearly fell below the standard of care, that he should have come to the hospital immediately when his patient’s condition deteriorated, and that he should have made arrangements for emergency surgery much earlier.
The case went to mediation.
After mediation, Mr. Doe accepted a settlement offer of $850,000.
Dempsey Kingsland Osteen
The Dempsey Kingsland Osteen law firm has provided outstanding legal representation in personal injury and medical malpractice cases since 1986. Our office at Dempsey Kingsland Osteen has the legal and medical expertise to carefully and skillfully resolve your case. Please call us at (816) 484-3776 or contact us online to discuss your case. We offer free consultation, and we do not charge a fee unless we recover for you.