She was told it would be a routine hernia repair.
A simple procedure and should would be able to go home on the same day. The patient asked whether a general surgeon should be doing this hernia repair. The GYN cancer surgeon said that he does these procedures all the time and there would be no need to have this done with a general surgeon.
During surgery a hole was inadvertently made in the bowel. Luckily for the patient, the doctor recognized it during the course of surgery. However, instead of calling in a general surgeon or a colorectal surgeon to fix the bowel injury, the GYN cancer doctor and his team elected to fix the bowel on their own.
When a significant bowel injury occurs during the course of surgery, it is often necessary to remove the damaged portion of the bowel. That is commonly known as a bowel resection. They are then left with two open ends of the bowel that must be joined together. This is known as an end-to-end anastomosis.
Joining the two ends together, the doctors must suture bowel watertight to prevent leakage of any intestinal fluids into the abdominal cavity.
Within the next 2 1/2 days, the patient's medical condition deteriorated. Her cardiac palpitations returned, her kidney function dropped and her blood pressure dropped as well. It wasn't until the patient was quite sick that she was rushed back to operating room with a general surgeon to open her belly and find out what was happening.
What the surgeon observed was startling. Upon entering her belly he found fecal contents sitting in her abdominal cavity. This is something that should never be present. What he found next was even more shocking.
The two ends of the bowel that had been joined together and sewn up, were now wide open. This explained why there were fecal contents in the belly. Unfortunately for the patient, she developed an infection from the feces in her belly that was never recognized or treated. As a result, this became a massive system-wide infection causing her kidney function to decrease and cascaded into multi-system organ failure leading to her death hours after this emergency surgery.