This week, a North Carolina jury awarded $7.5 million to a gentleman whose botched colon surgery left him with severe and debilitating complications. A copy of the article regarding the case can be found here. In June of 2010, the patient underwent surgery to remove a portion of his colon due to a potentially cancerous mass that had been found. It was alleged that when the surgeon connected the new ends of the colon together, there was a leak. The patient in this case became extremely ill following the surgery. He suffered from a prolonged period of low blood pressure as well as kidney failure, infection and internal bleeding. He also underwent two additional surgeries during which his physicians were unable to locate the source of the infection. A colonoscopy later that same year revealed a leak in the area where a portion of the colon had been resected. A fourth surgery was then performed to repair the leak and mitigate the resulting internal damage.
When a perforation occurs in the gastrointestinal tract, substances such as fecal matter, food and bacteria can leak in to the abdominal cavity which can cause infection, organ damage and even death. Perforations of the colon can happen on their own but, more commonly, occur during surgeries in the abdomen. Symptoms of a colon injury include fever, pain, increased heartbeat, increased respiratory rate and distension of the abdomen. Generally speaking, a perforated colon can be diagnosed using the CT Scan technology that is available today.
Often times, the defense in these types of cases is that the perforation – and the resultant leak – in and of itself is not a breach of the standard of acceptable medical care. While the truth of this defense depends on the circumstances, a good medical malpractice attorney can get around this argument by showing that a delay in diagnosing the perforation and leak resulted in unnecessary harm and damages.
Our medical malpractice attorneys at Silverman ,Thompson, Slutkin & White routinely handle cases of surgical malpractice and have successfully resolved cases involving perforations of gastrointestinal structures. If you or a loved one has been the victim of any type of surgical malpractice, call our litigators for a free consultation.