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Gynecology Patient Has Surgery and Wakes Up Five Days Later Not Knowing Why

When she awoke she was in the intensive care unit. She didn’t know where she was. She didn’t know how she got there. She went back to sleep.

Turns out she spent 31 continuous days in the hospital. Most of those days were spent in a haze. She has very little memory of those awful days.

Here’s what we learned. 

During the course of her laparoscopic gyn surgery the gynecologist encountered lots of adhesions which is scar tissue inside her abdomen. She had prior abdominal surgery and that explained why she had these adhesions. 

During the course of surgery, the surgeon, or his assistant, accidentally made a hole in her bowel. The only problem was that they didn’t realize it when it happened or before they finished the surgery.

Over the next two days, the patient’s condition deteriorated. The doctors didn’t know why. She developed a raging infection and they also didn’t know why. The began to treat the infection but the patient kept getting worse and worse.

Over the next few days they ran tests, CAT scans and MRI scans and came to the initial conclusion that she had an abscess, which was a collection of fluid in her belly that they figured would go away by itself with antibiotic treatment.

Wrong.

What they hadn’t yet figured out was that she had a hole in her bowel that kept leaking bowel contents into her abdomen. That was bad. Really bad. That’s what was causing her infection. That’s why she was getting worse by the day.

Finally, the surgeon correctly realized that the patient had an acute belly and needed to go back into surgery immediately. This time though, instead of tiny laparoscopic incisions, she had a massive vertical incision made from her chest all the way down to her groin. This is known medically as an open laparotomy.

It was only during this open surgery did the surgeon realize there were feces coming out of the bowel and into her belly.

Thirty one days in the hospital. A second surgery needed. A massive vertical incision on her belly.

After I started her lawsuit, her surgeon refused to take responsibility for his actions. He said he did nothing wrong. He claimed this is a known risk of the procedure. He wouldn’t budge an inch. Not surprising. This is typically what happens in medical malpractice cases here in New York.

Her case was coming up for trial. Shortly before trial the defense finally realized what we knew all along. 

The case settled for a significant amount of money.