He was only 37 years old. Worked for a mortgage company. He was their star salesman. Earning a hefty and healthy salary plus commissions. He'd won awards as their top earning salesman year after year. Until an emergency room doctor failed to diagnose his heart disease.
Until an emergency room doctor carelessly misread his EKG after having chest pain.
Until this patient had a massive heart attack three months later that killed 70% of his heart.
Now, he can't walk across the room without getting out of breath. Now, he takes 40 pills a day. Now he can't work. Now he can't support his beautiful wife and young child.
This young man had massive heart disease.
His chest pain was a signal...a signal that should have set off warning signs.
The emergency room doctor ignored those signals.
"They're not accurate and I have much more experience interpreting EKG's," he told me during his pretrial testimony.
The problem was that every cardiologist I asked to interpret this EKG confirmed it was abnormal.
Every expert cardiologist I consulted with from Harvard to Stanford to New York City confirmed this ER doctor misread this EKG.
If he had recognized the problem, he would have been sent for a coronary angiogram which would have showed three of his coronary arteries were almost 100% closed.
He would have had an elective heart bypass surgery that would have prevented his massive heart attack that killed off 70% of his heart.
I was able to help him and his wife and daughter continue on with his life as best he can.
This next patient was the same age as the mortgage broker I just discussed.
37 years old. With a wife. With kids. A hard worker.
His problem started when he had pain while urinating.
That started a series of events that would eventually lead one medical specialist to say "It looks like a bomb went off in your urethra! WHO DID THIS TO YOU?"
His urologist decided he had scar tissue in the tube that allows urine to leave the penis. It's called the urethra.
His doctor decided to cut open the scar tissue. In the office. Without anesthesia.
That's how it's done. It's called a cold knife urethrotomy.
That wasn't the problem. That was just one step leading up to the problem.
That procedure worked. For a few weeks anyway. But that created another problem.
He was now leaking urine. All the time. Medicine didn't help.
A few weeks later, the pain returned because the scar tissue returned.
This is a band-aid procedure. It's known to cause scar tissue to re-form. It has to be opened again and again.
His urologist had a better idea! "Let's put a metal stent into your urethra. That'll keep it wide open," he told the patient.
What he didn't tell the patient was that this stent should ONLY be used in elderly men who no longer get erections.
Because it causes extreme pain when you have an erection.
Remember, he was only 37 years old.
This urologist didn't consider his age when putting this device in his penis.
Then, during the procedure, he decided to put in two of them. Back to back.
He thought that would be better and prevent the scar tissue from forming along the urethra.
Days and weeks after the procedure the patient would leak urine constantly.
Many mornings he'd awake with an erection, needed to go to the bathroom.
During those times he'd be in excruciating pain.
The pain was so bad that he wanted to kill himself repeatedly.
The doctor decided that the stent was hitting a nerve. "Let's take you back to the operating room and move it away from where it is. That'll work," he told the patient.
The patient was willing to do anything to get rid of this horrible pain.
During the procedure, the urologist attempted to move the metal mesh that was now embedded within his urethra.
The outer lining of the urethra had overgrown onto and into the mesh, as it was intended to do.
The doctor could not move the stents.
So he pulled and pulled.
That caused the stents to disintegrate. That caused the metal device to fragment. That caused the doctor to remove one sharp metal strand after another. Piece by piece these stents now had to be removed. By the time he was done, the inside of the patient's urethra had been destroyed.
These stents were intended to remain in place. They were not intended to be moved weeks after they were inserted.
This patient needed major reconstructive urological surgery with a top notch expert in the country.
The problem is that while the penis and his urethra were being reconstructed, the urine has to come out somewhere.
It couldn't come out of his penis because that would not allow the damage to heal.
Instead, his reconstructive surgeon had to make an opening between his scrotum and his anus to allow urine to leave his body. This required him to sit and urinate like a woman. This went on for a year and a half before he had surgery to close this up and get his urethra working again.
I was honored to have helped this young man with his devastating urological nightmare.
He was a young boy. With pain in his testicle. He finally told his mom who tried to ease his pain with a warm bath.
When that didn't work mom rushed him to the emergency room.
It had been a few hours since the pain started.
There was no urology specialist at the hospital in the evening.
There was no pediatric urologist around.
They needed to find one to evaluate his condition.
In the meantime, the doctors in training thought he might have a twisted testicle. That's called testicular torsion.
That's where the testicle twists upon itself.
It's excruciatingly painful.
If this is what he has, then there's a brief window of time in which to fix it. Otherwise, the blood supply will be choked off and the testicle will die. That window of time is measured in hours. There is an ultrasound test that helps doctors determine if there's still blood flowing through the testicle.
It's called a color doppler flow. It's non-invasive.
It took forever for the hospital doctors to get permission to get this test ordered and done.
In the interim, they still couldn't find a urologist to examine this young boy.
Finally, they wake up a hot shot surgeon at home to come into the hospital.
By the time he comes into the hospital, examines the boy, evaluates the color doppler flow, he determines it's too late to save the testicle. It's dead. He should have been called in earlier. Earlier he could have saved it. Now, he can't.
The boy needed surgery anyway to remove the dead testicle. He couldn't walk around with a dead testicle in his body.
Turns out, the hospital staff delayed recognizing this child's twisted testicle and failed to quickly and timely act to save it.
The sad reality is that this tragedy was preventable.
Actually, that's not accurate.
It wasn't the surgery that killed her.
It was his failure to recognize a problem during surgery that actually killed her.
That's not really accurate either.
You see, the problem happened during surgery.
He perforated her bowel. That meant he made a hole in her bowel.
The problem was that he wasn't doing bowel surgery.
He was performing gynecological surgery. Surgery that was supposed to be 'routine'.
Surgery that was supposed to be uneventful.
He should never have been near the bowel.
He punctured the bowel. Either he did it or the doctor in training who was assisting him did it.
Either with a surgical instrument or with a cautery device used to burn tissue to stop bleeding.
Regardless, it was something that needed immediate attention.
But he didn't recognize it during surgery.
He didn't have a clue he injured the bowel. Nor did his surgical assistant.
He sent the patient home a few hours later.
She wasn't feeling well.
She felt nauseous. She was bloated. She couldn't eat or drink.
Later that night, the gynecologist called to see how she was feeling.
"Terrible. I'm bloated. I have stomach pain. I can't go to the bathroom," she said.
"Don't worry. That's normal," he reassured her.
An autopsy confirmed her bowel had been punctured during surgery. Because it was never recognized, her bowel contents poured out of her intestines and into her belly causing a massive infection. That infection quickly spread through her body. The doctors call that sepsis or septic shock. If not identified quickly, it can result in death, as here.
This was a preventable tragedy. I was privileged to have helped her surviving son with this awful event.
These are just a few of the people I've been able to help over the course of my career.
If you have questions about your matter that happened here in New York and you have not yet started a lawsuit, then I invite you to reach out to me. I can answer your questions. This is what I do every day and would love to chat with you.