On behalf of Hastings Law Firm posted in Surgical Errors on Monday, December 15, 2014.

A Texas surgeon is one of the witnesses giving testimony in a medical malpractice case concerning the premature birth of a child. The parents allege that serious surgical errors that occurred while the mother was pregnant led to the recurrence of a life-threatening medical issue. They believe that the surgeon not only failed to follow protocol, but also that he acted negligently by not using his best judgment during the surgery.

When the mother was only three weeks pregnant and unaware of her condition, abdominal pain resulted in a visit to the emergency room. After being diagnosed with appendicitis, the attending health care providers discovered the pregnancy, which escalated the seriousness of the situation. However, everyone believed the surgery to be a success, with both her appendix removed and her pregnancy saved.

Roughly 20 weeks later, similar abdominal pain landed the woman back in the hospital with yet another case of appendicitis. As it turned out, her appendix had not been removed in its entirety, and her surgeon claimed that he had been unable to remove a third of it because part of it was behind her colon. According to other health care professionals, no matter where the appendix is located, it should be entirely removed.

A witness from the University of Texas elaborated on the standard of care for appendicitis, claiming that even appendixes that are partially hidden behind the colon should still be removed. Based on some of the academic papers that he has published on the subject, he claims that the only safe size to leave behind is smaller than the point of a pen. This is in stark contrast to the amount that was left in the mother’s body.

Surgical errors such as this one can impact not only the victim, but also his or her entire family, as in this case. Premature babies often require extensive stays in the hospital and sometimes suffer from various birth defects. The monumental emotional and financial cost of a baby born early, coupled with multiple surgeries and recoveries for the mother may have been nearly unbearable. While the family was apparently unable to settle this medical malpractice claim outside of the courtroom, the expert witness from the Texas university may provide the evidence of negligence needed to see that the family is compensated.

Source: thetimesnews.com, “Testimony begins in medical malpractice case”, Michael D. Abernethy, Dec. 8, 2014