On December 15, 2005, a 61-year-old man went to the hospital to have hernia repair surgery. After his surgery, he experienced increasing abdominal pain, he started to vomit, and he had other serious symptoms. It was later determined that the man had an inflamed colon, possibly due to the antibiotics that he had been taking before his surgery. The man died six days later, allegedly as a result of the negligence of his medical providers, survived by his wife, a son, and a daughter.
On February 5, 2013, the man’s family filed a wrongful death medical malpractice case in Cook County (Illinois) Circuit Court against the hospital where the surgery was performed and the after-surgery care was provided, a physician’s assistant involved with the man’s care, and the surgeon who had performed the hernia repair surgery. The medical malpractice allegations include the alleged failure of a physician’s assistant to promptly report the man’s symptoms to a physician and the failure of a physician being called to the hospital to examine, diagnose, and treat the man’s serious condition. The medical malpractice complaint further alleges that the hospital had insufficient staff with appropriate skill in providing post-operative care and also failed to timely diagnose the man’s inflamed colon. The surgeon was alleged to have been negligent by failing to postpone the surgery due to the man’s pre-operative use of antibiotics, according to the medical malpractice lawsuit.
The hospital issued a written statement in response to the medical malpractice lawsuit stating, “As a healing ministry, providing the safest and highest quality care is our top priority. Because this matter is a part of ongoing and/or pending litigation, we are unable to provide a comment at this time.”
There are known risks of any surgical procedure that can be managed and minimized with appropriate and timely care and services provided by properly trained and skilled medical providers before, during, and after the surgical procedure. Before a non-emergency surgical procedure may be performed, surgeons or others are assigned the task of obtaining the patient’s informed consent for the procedure and they may be held accountable for their failures to adequately advise patients regarding what a reasonable patient would want to know about their procedure and/or their failures to adequately advise patients regarding the alternatives to the procedure. After surgery, the medical providers assigned to patients to provide post-operative care must be keenly aware of signs or symptoms that need to be promptly evaluated by the appropriate caregivers, whether that be the surgeon who performed the operation or a physician or other qualified person who takes over the care of the patients when they are wheeled out of the operating room.
While most people think that the most risky part of a surgical procedure is the surgery itself, the case of the Illinois man who died because he allegedly did not receive the proper post-surgical care is a stark reminder that patients must be provided the necessary care, treatment, and attention at all stages of the process.
If you or someone you know suffered serious injuries, complications, or worse as a result of surgery, you should promptly seek to consult with a local medical malpractice attorney to learn about your rights and responsibilities in the matter.
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