Kentucky family blames doctor errors for man's death

Many surgeries, like gastric bypass operations, are often life saving. Unfortunately, there are instances in which these surgeries can end up horribly wrong. In the case of one 75-year-old Kentucky man, a gastric bypass went well, but the chief of surgery at an out-of-state hospital says the aftercare the man received was lacking.

The patient presented on April 9, 2010, with complaints of abdominal pain and vomiting. A digestive tract blockage was discovered, which necessitated the surgery. The surgery was performed on April 17. A C.T. scan done on April 20 didn't show signs of a leak. The man's condition deteriorated and the surgeon ordered another C.T. scan on April 24. That was the scan the surgeon failed to check himself. It is also the scan in which the radiologist, who is not listed in the civil lawsuit, failed to mention that "free air" was present in the abdominal cavity. The surgeon says the radiologist's failure to mention the "free air" was a mistake and that he didn't have a reason to not believe the board-certified radiologist's report.

As the patient's condition worsened, the family asked that he be sent to Lexington where better technology and care might be available. The patient remained under the surgeon's care until April 25 when he was transferred to the University of Kentucky Medical Center. A C.T. scan done there on April 26 showed a drastic increase in "free air," which necessitated emergency surgery. He died on April 29 without recovering from the surgery.

A post-mortem examination showed the man was stricken with advanced pancreatic cancer. The surgeon and other witnesses said his life would have been painful, short, and difficult if he had survived the surgery.

The man's bypass was done wonderfully, said the expert witness. The witness says that one doctor caring for the man didn't personally check the C.T. scan and didn't notice that there was "free air" in the abdominal cavity, which is indicative of a leak. He says the time frame in which a leak is most likely to occur is days four to seven past the surgery.

This man's family took action against the doctors who they claim were responsible for his wrongful death. Anyone who has lost a loved one due to medical negligence might have the right to seek compensation as this family did.

Source: Central Kentucky News, "Surgeon Spoonamore testifies in medical malpractice trial against Danville docs" Todd Kleffman, Feb. 20, 2014

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