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Home >  News >  May, 2012

Patient Dies After Admission for Gallbladder Surgery That Wasn't Performed

Hospital admits liability for wrongful death after delaying procedure.

Published: May 23, 2012

A New York hospital's failure to remove an infected gallbladder cost a patient his life, and may cost the facility more than $7 million in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

The patient, Nam Yoon Lee, was admitted to New York Hospital Queens on June 18, 2008, to undergo surgery to remove his gallbladder the following morning. But that surgery was never performed. Due to the hospital's "admitted malpractice," Mr. Lee's surgery didn't take place on June 19 as planned, and the hospital "inexcusably failed to perform the surgery on June 20 or June 21," according to court records.

During this time, however, Mr. Lee was still kept without food or water in preparation for the surgery. Court documents show that Mr. Lee, who had been admitted with biliary colic and diagnosed with inflammation of the gallbladder, developed systemic sepsis as a result of the delay in removing the infected organ. At 2:50 p.m. on June 22, the hospital's rapid response team intubated Mr. Lee after an unsuccessful attempt to give him oxygen with a mask.

Court records indicate that Mr. Lee asphyxiated during the intubation, as a result of the gallbladder surgery never being done, and the manner in which the intubation was performed. He suffered full cardiac arrest just after 3 p.m., and was pronounced dead at 3:50 p.m.

During the subsequent malpractice trial, the hospital conceded liability, acknowledging its responsibility for Mr. Lee's wrongful death as a result of medical malpractice. Mr. Lee's family was originally awarded $7,579,560 for his pain and suffering as well as past and future economic losses. New York Hospital Queens has filed a motion for a new trial on damages on the grounds that the jury's award "deviates materially from what would be reasonable compensation," according to court records.

Attorneys for both parties did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Mark McGraw


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